Near, Far, Wherever You Are: How to Celebrate the Holidays in a New Home

This year, I made the leap I’ve wanted to make for decades: I finally moved across the country, from Chicago to southern California. I’d dreamt about moving here since I was a teen — until I reached a point in my life where I realized: If I didn’t do it now, I’d probably never do it.

The perks of making this move have been wonderful. I’ve met new friends, soaked up lots of nature, and finally felt like I’ve found a living environment that I truly love. I’m also very excited to miss my first Chicago winter!

Despite my happiness with the move, making this big change still presents its challenges  — and a major one is being far away from my support network. 

With the holidays approaching, the not-so-appealing side of leaving loved ones bubbles up: missing them. For starters, the thought of spending a holiday like Thanksgiving alone can seem… lonely. 

I’m not sure what my plans for the holidays are just yet now that I’m in a new place, but I’ve come up with a few ideas of how to spend the Christmas season away from family that I’ve tried and will be trying — and wanted to share them.

Take a day trip.

In California, there’s no shortage of day trips I can take. Within a few hours, I can get to the mountains, the desert, a big city, or a beach. I already gave this idea a try when my birthday coincided with my big move, and I decided to take a road trip out to the desert to “celebrate” my new surroundings. Getting out and exploring, especially in nature, gave me a similar sense of joy that I’d been missing, having not seen my loved ones. Going on a day trip, even if it’s just a few towns away, is a great way to do something special if you can’t be with family.

Give yourself a day off.

Since my move, I’ve had my fair share of days when I felt sad about being away from my family. When I feel really homesick, I give myself a day to unplug and rest. If this feeling hits during the holiday season, I’ll watch my favorite Christmas movies, get a holiday-themed pedicure, read a good book, bake cookies, or do something little to treat myself, even if something simple like getting a hot chocolate. Treating a holiday like a day of rest might be a great way to pamper yourself. It’s worked for me!

Find a local event you can attend to meet new people.

I’m an introvert, so going to social events with a ton of people I don’t know is pretty out of my comfort zone. But last Memorial Day, a day I usually would spend with my family, I went with a new friend to a local pancake breakfast hosted by a beach town. It wasn’t the same as a barbecue with my loved ones, but I did get to make new connections and be around people. Another great option for the holiday season is to volunteer at a local food pantry or soup kitchen to serve a Thanksgiving or Christmas meal to those who need it the most. 

Schedule a FaceTime call with your loved ones.

The beauty of modern technology is that we can still connect with the people we love from anywhere. When my family gets together for birthdays and holidays, I always find out what time they’ll be together and then FaceTime in to chat. It’s not the same as being in the room, but it is a way to “show up” from afar, even if only for a few minutes.

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