Christmas time is family time. But these days, it is often tough for a lot of people to spend the holidays together as a complete family. With the growing rate of single-parent households or children living with their relatives as a result of one or both parents working abroad, family togetherness especially during the Christmas season is often compromised.
While the reality of being away from family can be too depressing and too lonely this time of the year, distance should never be a hindrance from sharing a heartwarming and meaningful Christmas with our children.
So beat the holiday blues and make Christmas still a memorable time for you and your loved ones – no matter where you are. Here are some creative ways to connect with family while spending Christmas away from home:
1. Create a Christmas video.
Make a personal home video you can send to your loved ones back home. Give a “Christmas-sy” theme to it. You may use your favorite Christmas song as its main scoring - take footages of where you are and how you will be spending your Christmas so that your family can feel more connected with you.
Finally, instead of sending traditional written letters or greeting cards, include a video message of love and Christmas wishes for your family.
2. Decorate your place as if you’re truly home.
Beat that holiday “homesick” feeling by decorating your place exactly the way your own house back home would look and feel like on Christmas. Take a photo of yourself with your decorated home and send it as a postcard to your loved ones.
3. Set new family traditions.
Instead of feeling depressed on not being able to enjoy the usual Christmas activities you used to do with your family, why not come up with new ones.
For instance, have your own version of the 12 days of Christmas by sending 12 different heartwarming email messages 12 days before Christmas to your kids… it could be an inspiring Christmas story, a quote or simple message from the heart. You can also get everyone to make a Christmas family scrapbook on “how you spent your Christmas this year”, where each could contribute his own page. Once you finally get together make sure to compile everything into a family Christmas memorabilia. Make it a goal to add to add pages each year.
Send anonymous gifts to your kids back home and note that it’s from Santa Claus. It’s up to you if you wish to reveal where it came from later on, but the element of surprise will truly be a fun way to connect with your kids.
Use technology to your advantage.With all the different ways we can connect online – social networks, chats, video calls, etc – it will be easier for you to feel like you’re close to home with your loved ones. If time difference and your availability would make it possible, connect online with your family through apps like Skype, and celebrate Christmas Eve together. Sing carols, share warm messages, eat, and open gifts together as if you’re actually home.
6. Share and make a difference.
There is no better way to feel good than to help others and spread holiday cheer to the less fortunate. Donate to charity, come up with a Christmas campaign, or support an organization or institution. Encourage your family to do the same back home and make it your family tradition. You can even come up with a family project which you can get involved in wherever you are. Be sure to share stories of your wonderful experiences and strengthen your bond as a family by doing something worthwhile.
7. Pray together as a family.
Even if you cannot physically join your family as they attend Christmas religious services such as “Simbang Gabi” and the Christmas Eve masses, set a specific time of the day to pray for them as if you’re praying with them. Have a common prayer time as a family and commit to it.
8. Celebrate love and togetherness even if it’s no longer Christmas.
Whenever you do get a chance to come home to your family, make it feel like it’s Christmas all over again even if the holiday season is long over. Whether it’s March or August, do make the most of your time together as a family. Remember, Christmas is all about love, and sharing this love any day of the year will be enough to keep the spirit of this season alive all year through.
Indeed, the best gifts this Christmas are not the ones that are placed under the Christmas tree; rather, it is those that have found a special place in our hearts – our family and friends. Even if not all roads may lead to home on Christmas day, there will always be ways to share a meaningful celebration with our loved ones no matter how far we may be. For as long as we are connected by love, home will never be too far away.