For the first time in quite some time, both Zack and I will actually be in our home state for Christmas this year! With Zack being in the Marine Corps for the last 8 years and us constantly living thousands of miles from family, it’s been challenging to get back to Maine for the holidays. Unfortunately, many families experience this.
Being away from family, especially during the holidays can be rough. Thinking back on my first Thanksgiving after marrying Zack and moving to North Carolina, I remember it being really hard on me. That holiday season felt a bit less magical due to my family living in Vermont at the time and his living in Maine. And to make it worse, he worked that Thanksgiving and that Christmas which meant I spent the first half of those holidays home alone with the dog.
It’s no lie that those moments are tough, but regardless, we’ve always found ways to make the holidays work as best we could. Here’s how we managed to stay connected with long-distance family members during the holiday season (and please enjoy these adorable photos of Allie from last Thanksgiving!).
Use Skype and Facetime to your advantage
Skype and FaceTime should be your best friend when you’re miles away from your family. You’re not physically there with them, but it still allows you to be “present”. You can FaceTime while watching Christmas movies or help your siblings shop for your parents at the mall. Catch up every weekend to see how everyone’s doing and “attend” your family’s holiday parties so you can see out-of-town relatives. You can even open presents together on Christmas Day to continue those usual family traditions. We used to do all of the above with our families when we couldn’t be home for the holidays and it was always a great way to feel connected to our loved ones.
Continue all your usual family traditions
This can make you feel like you’re at home. It might be a little difficult since it won’t be the same as doing them with your family, but something as small as having the same candle scent in your home as your parents’ can make you feel a million times better. If there’s a holiday tradition that you know you’ll be missing out on, then turn them into a tradition with your spouse, children, or even your friends.
Decorate your home
Even if you don’t have the motivation to do it, do it anyways. A lit Christmas tree, gifts, stockings hung on the fireplace, holiday scented candles burning, lights on the front porch: it can all really help to get you into the Christmas spirit. There are even studies out there that show that the earlier you decorate for the holiday season, the happier you’ll be! So keep that in mind. Don’t be afraid to dig out the decorations early and really make your home feel like a home.
Exchange holiday cards
This is a great tradition for any couple or family. And when you’re miles apart, it can be even more special. Take the time to get your spouse (and kids) together for some family photos and take the time to put together a gorgeous holiday card. You can even include a letter home to each of your family members and friends, thanking them for their love and support and highlighting all the best moments and updates from your life throughout that year. They’ll love receiving those updates and the fact that you’re doing your best to keep them included. It’s the little things that can make the biggest difference.
Surround yourself with positivity
Social media can completely mood killer around the holidays so don’t spend your day on Facebook, looking at all the happy couples and people with their families. It’ll most likely make you feel worse. It’s best to stay off social media for the day, if possible. Instead, surround yourself with as much positivity as you can. Spend time with your spouse, host a Christmas party with your friends, watch Christmas movies. Do whatever you have to do to get through the holiday season. The more positivity you surround yourself with, the easier it’ll be.
Do you live away from home? How do you stay connected with long-distance family members?