Celebrating The Holidays Away From Family

Keating Bartlett

Being away from family is really hitting me hard this year. I've become very close to my dad and sisters this past year and a half and now it's left me feeling incredibly homesick.  I went home last week to visit, which was a really nice break from all the everyday stresses of work and school, but it still doesn't help the fact that I'm bitter about being alone on Christmas.

Christmastime is my favorite time of year. It's magical. But this year feels a bit less magical with our families and friends so far away. However, I’m trying to stay positive, looking at the bright side and figuring out the best ways to help me feel connected this holiday season, even when we all can’t physically be together.

Use Skype and FaceTime to your advantage!
I FaceTime with husband's mom a lot lately and it makes me feel so much better. I'm not physically there with her, but I can see her and talk to her as if I'm there which is almost as good. Many families use either Skype or FaceTime in some way throughout the holiday season. You can use it to connect with your significant other overseas or to "spend time" with friends and family back in your home state. It's a great way to feel connected to those you love even though you’re miles apart. We'll definitely be spending our afternoon on FaceTime with our families so that we can all open our gifts "together".

Continue all your usual family traditions.
This can make you feel like you're at home. It might be a little difficult (since it won’t be the same as doing them with your family) but something as small as having the same candle scent in your home as your parents' can make you feel a million times better. If there's a holiday tradition that you know you'll be missing out on, then turn it into a tradition with your spouse, children, or even your military family.

Decorate your home.
Even if you don't have the motivation to do it, do it anyway. This can really help to get you into the Christmas spirit. I love coming home to a lit Christmas tree and gifts underneath it. We also have a candle that smells like a fireplace and an apple pie scented one as well. Our home feels like a home. Hang your stockings, pick out and decorate your Christmas tree, put up some Christmas lights and decorations outside. I promise, it helps.

Exchange Christmas cards.
When I married my husband Zack, I really wanted to make it a tradition to send out a Christmas card every year. It was just one of those wifey things that I always looked forward to doing.  Along with my Christmas cards, I also include a letter home to each of our family members and friends, thanking them for their love and support and highlighting all the best moments and updates from our life throughout that year. They love receiving updates and keeping them as included as I can in our life. Little things like this make me feel closer to them and I know they always appreciate it as well.

Surround yourself with positivity.
Social media can be a complete mood killer around the holidays, so don't spend your day on Facebook, looking at all the happy couples and people with their families. It'll most likely make you feel worse. Instead, surround yourself with as much positivity as you can. Spend time with your spouse, host a Christmas party with your friends and military family, watch Christmas movies. Do whatever you have to do to get through the holiday season with a smile on your face. The more positivity you surround yourself with, the easier it'll be.

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