If you have a tight-knit group of friends at school, consider starting your own holiday traditions, like making every kind of pie.
It’s that time of year again. A warm fire, turkey and endless opportunities for awkward family photos –- there’s no place like home for the holidays. But what happens when home is halfway across the country and you haven’t racked up enough flyer miles to get there? For many college students attending out-of-state schools, this is a reality.
So what does one do when “home for the holidays” isn’t an option? As the saying goes, out with the old, in with the new — new experiences, new traditions and a new frame of mind. It can be difficult to be away from family and the comforts of home during the holiday season, but there are still ways to have a good time.
If you’ve made any friends in school, chances are at least one of them lives locally. If they aren’t planning on leaving town, see if spending time with them is an option for the holidays. It could be a better experience than staying in the dorms or spending time with distant relatives you don’t really know. No one wants to see a friend spend the holidays alone, so scoring an invite somewhere shouldn’t be too difficult to come by. It’s not a desperate move to ask around either. My sophomore year of college, I joined one of my friends for Thanksgiving. There was no stigma with me, a stranger joining her family for dinner, and it turned out to be a really relaxing time. On top of that, she and her siblings were avid Black Friday shoppers, so it was nice to face the consumer crowd with companions.
But if the malls aren’t your scene this time of year, ‘tis the season to give. You may not be able to afford a flight home to visit your family, but some people don’t have family they can visit at all. Think about giving back in your community. You may not be able to give tangible gifts to your family, but sometimes it’s the intangible things that matter, such as your time and kindness that will really resonate with those around you.
And when it comes to those around you, you might be surprised to find you actually do have family in the area. If you can’t spend the holidays with your loved ones by blood, spend it with your loved ones by heart. The friends you make in college are likely going to be around for a while; it’s like building your second family. If you have a tight-knit group of friends you have made during your time at school, consider starting your own holiday traditions with them. Put on your own Thanksgiving dinner. Have chicken instead of turkey. Make every kind of pie. For nostalgia’s sake, listen to ‘N Sync’s holiday album instead of Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire on repeat. Or don’t. Traditions have to start somewhere at some time. Why not get the ball rolling now?
Don’t be discouraged if you can’t join family this holiday season. At least you get to dodge the awkward questions about why you’re still single, and you won’t have to stomach leftover turkey for a week (a food we have collectively deemed as dry and bland). Perspective is everything and the holidays are what you make of them. Make sure that whatever you do, home or not, you find a way to enjoy your holiday. Because in the words of The Head and the Heart, “You’re already home where you feel loved.”
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