Meaningful ways to celebrate when you can't go home for Christmas

The holidays are usually a time when families come together to celebrate, but what do you do when you can't make it home this season? Here are some ideas to make wherever you are feel like home.

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  • I am what you would consider an adult. I have been married almost eight years and even have two kids, but I still consider my parents' house "home" when it comes to Christmas. There is just no better way to bring back the magical memories of my childhood Christmas' than by celebrating in the home I grew up in, with my parents and family surrounding me as we open our gifts, one-by-one, and enjoy the delight of each other's happiness at what we received.

  • Now that I live hundreds of miles away from my parents, it can be difficult to go home for Christmas. It means traveling in dangerous weather, getting time off from work, and having to find accommodations for my ever growing family. On the years I cannot make it home, I try to make wherever I am feel like home. Here are some things I do.

  • Bring traditions from your childhood

  • We all have those little things we did growing up that made Christmastime even more magical and unique to us. Whether it is taking a family photo in front of the Christmas tree, opening one gift on Christmas eve, staying up until 3 or 4 in the morning dancing with your family (this one comes from my husband's Christmas traditions) or simply reading the Christmas story from the Bible before going to bed, there is most likely something that you did every year on Christmas. Bring those traditions to your own home. Even if you are spending the holiday alone, you can read the Christmas story in scripture. By incorporating your childhood traditions into your adult life, it brings home just a bit closer, no matter where you are.

  • Make new traditions

  • The great thing about starting your own family or being on your own is you can add new traditions to your holidays. Have you always wanted to go caroling to your neighbors or go on a sleigh ride, but no one else in your family did? You can do those things now that you are "in charge." Incorporate your new traditions with your old ones to make your Christmas familiar, yet new.

  • Focus on service

  • Whenever I am feeling down about things, I find doing service for others a great way to lift my spirits. There are unique service opportunities at Christmastime that can help you forget your sorrow of not being home for Christmas by being of service to your fellow man. I know lots of families that serve breakfast to the homeless on Christmas morning before opening their own gifts. Or you can adopt a family for Christmas and give them your time and love that you would be spending on your own family if you could. The opportunities are endless, and the reward is priceless.

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  • Get involved in the community

  • In addition to service opportunities, there are usually lots of events going on in the community at this time of year. Concerts, live nativities, tree-lighting ceremonies, performances and other happenings that can uplift you and help you celebrate the season. Make it a point to participate in these activities. Not only can they fill your nights and weekends with fun experiences, but they also get you more involved in the community, which helps you build connections and appreciation for where you live. I often find myself wishing I was someplace else at this time of year, like closer to my family, but then I am amazed at all the different events and community activities going on right where I live, and it helps me build a special bond to my community and enjoy where I am spending my holiday.

  • Remember the reason for the season

  • When everything is said and done, after all the presents are open, all the concerts have ended and lights turned off, the main reason we celebrate is to remember Christ our Savior, who was born on Christmas day, and that can be done anywhere, with anyone. If you are feeling alone, sad, and lost this Christmas season, turn your thoughts to Him and all he has done for you. You may not be celebrating how you usually do, or with who you wanted to, but if we can all take a moment to remember the reason we gather together on Christmas day, it will bring us all just a little bit closer in spirit.

  • I hope these ideas can help you make where you are feel just a little bit more like home this Christmas season.

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Megan Shauri graduated with a bachelors in anthropology and a masters in psychology. She is a mother of twins.

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