24 Dec 2018

Homesickness? Last minute top tips for those away from home at Christmas Season

Tomorrow is Christmas day  in New Zealand. I am looking forward to it.

Until my mid-twenties Christmas was feasting on turkey and Christmas pudding with a large family, walking off the feast at dusk, (rarely in snow), and then snacking on Quality Street, cold turkey, satsumas and nuts as we slouched around the fire.

Then I did the traveling thing.

Christmas was full of differences. Long summer days, (not necessarily sunny), ham, salads and trifle and no family around. There was phone calls, but the longer the phone call was, the more you missed the people you talked to. We were apart.

Having spent over three decades, with a different Christmas, I have learnt to accept it for what it is. This year Christmas is different again, not because my two oldest are absent again, but because this time we have two lovely travelers with us, my nephew and his girlfriend. So migrants and travelers out there here are some tips for Christmas away from loved ones. I hope some of them help.

  • Every Christmas is different in some way. Christmas changes throughout your life. Acknowledge and delight in the differences of your unique Christmas this year.
  • If the Christmas you are spending is very different, look at it through, 'this is bizarre' eyes, and smile.
  • When connecting with distant loved ones on the day through phone/social media note:
    • The festivity is disjointed. You are in different time zones. For example, if you are in the same time zone as NZ, you do Christmas before anyone else. You are 'over Christmas' by 10pm whereas UK is just getting started at 9am. The atmosphere from either ends of the phone will be different which can add to the feelings of distance.
    • Keep the conversations short. The reception is likely to be weak and the phone call/Skype etc. is likely to be intermittent. Don't spend too long on the phone, just enough time to say I love you,  I miss you, (if you do), I hope you have a great day. Plan to have a chat soon to let them know how it went.
  • It is likely that you will feel sad at some stage in the day. That is okay. If you are much more sad than glad, make a list of what would make it better for you for next year.
  • For a variety of reasons you are not with some of your loved ones.  Remember you still can have a good day. Be positive about your presence.
  • If the people around you do not ask, offer as a conversation piece, the highlights of your Christmas day, and how it is different, but avoid whose Christmas is better. Christmas is not a competition. Every Christmas is different in some way.

I would like to wish you a meaningful unique Christmas, and a season where the peace, hope and love lasts much longer than the leftovers.