When it comes to the holidays, is this you?
(Is it just me or was this part just a little too dramatic?)
Maybe you've watched Home Alone every Christmas since you were five. Maybe you're that family that spends Thanksgiving evening putting up their Christmas tree so you're free to hit the sales on Black Friday. Whatever your holiday traditions, don't you love how they make you feel? Warm and golden? Well, how do you handle the holidays when you can't make it home to relish those time-tested moments?
Or, let's be honest, not everyone has the greatest holiday memories. Maybe you just remember family tensions, money problems or maybe you felt the absence of a loved one (or ones). Apart from those not so pleasant memories, it's easy to feel even worse by not being giddy and obsessed with everything Elf. Why can't you feel more excited?
So, far-away or not-so-nostalgic, how do you handle holiday traditions on your own?
YOU'VE GOT A FEW OPTIONS:
Drop some serious cash at the grocery store stocking up on tubs of ice cream and cookie dough and popcorn and probably M&M's because you know how you love that savory+sweet combination, and maybe while you're at it a packet of instant mashed potatoes because, well, what's more home-y than creamy mashed potatoes? Follow said (not so) gourmet financial hit with a Netflix binge in your so funny that it's depressing that no one is there to appreciate it ironic pajamas.
Take a deep breath and decide to make some new traditions of your own.
If you opt for Option 1, no judgment, just don't take it too far and when you've let that run its course, meet me back for Option 2.
MAKING YOUR OWN TRADITIONS (you already know this):
Recognize you are where you are. Wow...profound... Hear me out: you are where you are right now. And it's fine to feel a little blue about missing out on old times, or feeling sorry for yourself for cheerless past holidays, for a minute. Feel it, process it without judgment. Then think: does it serve you now? No? Let it go. And then...
Love the people around you. Tell them how much you appreciate them-- it doesn't have to be family; friends, coworkers that have become your closest confidante... let 'em know. You'll probably be surprised to learn how much you mean to people too.
Propose doing something together. The together is the key here. Because what is it that makes us better human beings? Makes us kinder? Makes us smile when we look back at that beach trip where we got a flat tire twenty minutes in? The people that we're with. The something doesn't have to be big. Meet up to play cards, for a drink, to watch a movie, to cook something together, an at-home video game tournament...
Be thankful for your new tradition! Whether it's acting as a surrogate for beloved traditions you can't make it back for, or it's rebranding the holidays for you altogether-- be thankful. It's a lot harder to be upset when you're consciously thankful for what you've got.
I'm happy to say that almost five years into living in Madrid, I've come to love my new traditions. I still miss my loved ones back home, but I feel like I'm putting roots down here too... building two homes. And that is the warmest feeling I can think of.
If you have a new holiday tradition that you love, I'd love to hear from you! I'd love to compile a list of great holiday traditions!