Saturday, December 10, 2016

10 Tips for Celebrating Christmas Away from Home

No wonder Christmas Day is the most widely celebrated holiday. Christians around the world celebrate December twenty-fifth in honor of Christ’s birth; many non-Christians also celebrate Christmas, but as a strictly secular holiday. Christmas is a joyous time of year, but can be stressful and lonely for those away from their homes and families. If circumstances prevent you from being home and spending Christmas with your family these tips for celebrating Christmas away from home might help make your Christmas a little bit merrier this year.

Tip #1–Remember the real “spirit of Christmas” is one of giving and sharing.

Nothing gets you in the “Christmas spirit” more than being able to help someone else and make their day a little brighter. Just because you can’t share Christmas Day with loved ones doesn’t mean you can’t send cards, letters and packages that let them know you care.

Tip #2–Call home.

Yes, it isn’t the same as eating a piece of mom’s Christmas pie, but calling and visiting over the phone, or on-line, is the next best thing to being there.

Tip #3– Attend a Christmas church service.

If you are away from home at Christmas, you may enjoy attending a Christmas church service. Use the local phone directory to find churches in the area, or ask someone for recommendations.

Non-Catholics may even enjoy attending a traditional mid-night mass on Christmas Eve. Most Christian churches of all denominations have special services on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day. It serves as a time to celebrate Christ’s birth, the true purpose for the Christmas holiday.

Tip #4–Contact the United Way and volunteer for community service.

If you are in the United States, there are local United Way Agencies that can provide you with information on non-profit groups in your area needing Christmas volunteers. Many non-profit groups will gladly welcome you to help with various Christmas activities. They might even find a family to “adopt” you and invite you for a traditional Christmas dinner.

Tip #5–Visit a local nursing home or assisted living center.

Many elderly residents in these facilities are lonely and alone at Christmas time. It can be extremely hard for them to watch other residents being picked up and taken home by their families for the holiday, while they are left behind. From personal experience, I know many would love to have you visit and warmly welcome a little conversation and company.

Ask a nurse or the facility’s activities director who could use a little one-on-one attention. If the facility is having a Christmas party, volunteer to help with the festivities. It will help you, and the residents, both feel less lonely making Christmas more joyous for all concerned. If you are going to be in the same area for awhile, you might even choose to “adopt” a foster grandparent to regularly visit during your stay.

Tip #6–Volunteer at a Homeless Shelter or Soup Kitchen

Many non-profit groups need extra help with serving Christmas dinner to the homeless. It would give you an opportunity to stay busy, spending the holiday with others doing a community service that is much appreciated. It also will make you a little more thankful for the blessings you do have.

Tip#7–Postpone traditional Christmas celebrations until you can return home.

This might be an option for those working away from home, but returning soon. Just because the calendar says December 25th doesn’t mean you can’t wait and practice your own family traditions and celebrations later.

We once postponed Christmas until my husband, who was working and going to an out of state training program could return home. I made a video tape Christmas morning of the boys opening presents in front of the tree and we each recorded a message for him. We sent him the tape to watch, but left the Christmas tree up for two more months until he returned home. Then we had a second celebration when he returned home.

Tip#8–Visit shut-ins.

One of my more memorable Christmas Days was spend four hour’s drive from home. My sister-in-law belonged to a community service organization that cooked and delivered free Christmas dinners to the community’s shut-ins. The “Meals-on-Wheels” Christmas made us feel better knowing we spent the holiday helping make others’ Christmas just a little brighter.

Tip #9–Adopt a child or family for the holiday

If you can afford the added expensive, a wonderful Christmas gesture is to provide Christmas dinner fixings and gifts for a struggling family, especially a single parent with young children.

The Salvation Army and other community service organizations often provide this community service from their donations, but might still need help packaging and delivering these items and might welcome your assistance.

#10–This Christmas, reflect on your blessings

Rather than feel sorry for yourself because you are away from your home and family this holiday, stay busy and count your blessings. You’ll feel less blue if you have something constructive to do.

It really doesn’t matter where you are or how you choose to celebrate Christmas. It’s really a celebration of love and sharing. Its personal significance depends a lot on the traditions you grew up with or practice in your home; they aren’t set in stone. Build your own traditions and make Christmas a holiday of love celebrated in your heart no matter where you may be this Christmas Day.

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