We grow up celebrating Christmas with our families, but it becomes much more difficult to do so after we move away. After living away from my family for five years, I've learnt that you can still celebrate Christmas by connecting with your new friends and reconnecting with your family.
Work, school and other goals can require you to relocate. I moved over 600km away from my family five years ago, and the toughest part of the year, every year, is the Christmas holiday season. That's when you'll be the most homesick and feel the loneliest. When your family isn't close, and you can't make a trip to see them, it's still possible to have an awesome holiday season with caring people. Here are a few ways you can do that.
Accept an Invitation to Celebrate with a Friend's Family
When you're in a new place with people you haven't known for long, it's natural to feel hesitant about accepting holiday invitations. The first few times, I was always worried that they were pity invitations and that their family would treat me like an outsider.
The truth is that people will invite you because they enjoy spending time with you, and they might even consider you a loved one. Furthermore, people don't typically put their loved ones in the same area if they won't get along. In fact, it's human nature to avoid that kind of conflict, so if your friend's family won't be welcoming to a holiday visitor, the friend probably wouldn't invite you in the first place.
After a while I started occasionally accepting those invitations, and I'm glad that I did. The families I've spent Christmas with are some of the most accepting and loving I've ever met. Furthermore, they treated me like I was part of the family. In the end we all laughed, joked, and even had the typical family bickering. I've always been able to look back and be grateful that I still got to celebrate with wonderful people, even if it wasn't with my own family.
It can cause some anxiety going in, especially if you're introverted or shy, but the easiest way to find yourself celebrating a holiday is by accepting an invitation to celebrate with friends and their families.
Connect With the Other Loners You Know
You're probably not the only person in your circle of friends without holiday plans. Take initiative and invite all of your friends and acquaintances without plans to get together for a potluck. If you don't know them very well now, you probably will by the end of dinner. Sharing something so sentimental with people you've only known for a few months can really help foster organic friendships in a new place and reinforce your new social circle.
If you really are the only person in your social sphere that doesn't have plans, or you wish there were more people than the handful you've found, start a Meetup group for the Christmas holiday season. Meetups are easy to create, and they're a great opportunity to find people with shared interests. Just create your own "Holiday Meetup" group and schedule the events for each holiday you want to celebrate with the meetup. You'll be able to describe the group and each event in the app, and even see who's coming. Even if you're the only one, or just one of two people in your social circle that's still looking for holiday plans, you're definitely not the only one in your city. This is the perfect way to meet new people and celebrate the Christmas holidays all in one.
Connect with Your Family Anyway
Sometimes, all we want is to be with family for Christmas, even if we make other plans. Regardless of what other plans you make or don't make, you can always have a video chat during dinner with your family. You can each prop your web cameras and monitors up on or near the dinner table in good view, and eat and talk together like you normally would. It's not the same as being there in person. You'll miss out on the hugs and your mum's banana pudding, but you'll still get to see their faces and catch up and joke with them, which is the most important part. Even if you don't video chat over dinner, it's still nice to see everyone's smiling faces during the Christmas holidays.
Holidays away from home are tough to say the least. When you allow yourself to connect with new people and find a way to celebrate, you'll find that year after year you still feel thankful for everything you have instead of dwelling on everyone you miss. Then you can still sit down at the table and dine with your family through video chat, and have a great Christmas.