The holidays are getting closer and closer, and this season brings exciting traditions and the comforts of family and friends for many. However, it can also bring a challenging time for those who may be away from the comfort of their homes. For many who are in the age range of 18 to 24, like myself, we may be in a new environment or in a place away from home and this presents different ways to celebrate the season. Since I am in this boat myself, living in a new place that also happens to be very, very warm during a season that I am used to being chilly, I wanted to share some of the tips and tricks I use to make myself feel at home during the holidays.
For starters, I always seem to find that coming up with a list of things that are comforting to you and make you feel homey helps with the transition. With the holiday season coming up, some of my favorite things are cheesy Hallmark holiday movies, homemade pumpkin chocolate chip muffins, and cuddling under a warm blanket with a candle burning nearby. Although I can’t create that environment with my family on the couch with me, I can make myself feel right at home making some pumpkin muffins and watching a cheesy holiday movie or curling up with a good book. Creating an environment in my new home with these few of my favorite things not only makes me feel more at home, but also gets me into the spirit of the holidays (even if it’s 80+ degrees out – thank you Florida!).
Another tip that I have found to be very helpful is when I use my network. Being away from home is always a challenge, especially when you don’t know many people in the area. This is when it’s really important to utilize your growing network… and you never know who you may meet! When I first moved to Tampa, one of my very good family friends introduced me to her cousin who happened to live in St. Petersburg. One phone call to another and I quickly had expanded my network to meet a wonderful family who invited me to share the Jewish holidays with them. While I wasn’t able to be physically at home with my family, this still provided a sense of comfort to know I was not alone. Reach out to family and friends because you never know where it will take you. Especially as Sigma Kappas, we have sisters and connections all over the country.
My last tip is to be sure to make time to explore what holiday traditions are going on in your new city. Celebrating the holidays away from home may bring challenges, but it can also bring new adventures. Take this opportunity to research holiday traditions or any events that are taking place in your new city. These were some of my favorite memories during my time in college living in Elon, North Carolina. Each year, we had a Festival of Lights ceremony where the entire campus was lit up by trees with lights and luminaries lining the sidewalks. Hot chocolate and warm apple cider was served and the holiday season was celebrated. This is a favorite Elon tradition and came to make my time away from home easier at that time of year, because it grew to be one of my own favorite parts of the year.
Try not to let the challenge of being away from home from the holidays inhibit your ability to enjoy the festive time of year! There are so many things to get out and do in your new place, and there are always ways to make yourself feel right at home, too. Wishing you a healthy and happy holiday season!