Not Home For The Holidays?

How to make the most of the holidays when you’re away.


‘Tis the season, but for one reason or another you won’t be home for the holidays.  You won’t forget the time you spent the holidays away from home. It will stand out from the rest. This Thanksgiving I was in Andalucía, Spain! Here are some ideas on how to celebrate from afar:

1. Phone home

If you’re feeling like E.T. on a planet that’s not your own, your best lifeline is to phone home. If you have access to video chat, all the merrier.  Connecting from one end of the world to another is easier than ever before.  This is the day to make the extra effort to stay up past the time difference, or remain persistent over a shaky Internet connection. Let your friends and family know where you are! Remind them that although you may be traveling the world, your thoughts are with them on this special day.

2. Eat well, even if it is untraditional food

Holidays are fashioned around food, so eat—a lot. Even if you can’t order a traditional oven-roasted turkey, or honey baked ham, treat yourself to a feast. You may be tempted to saddle your table with close substitutes. But I must warn you, this may result in disappointment and misplaced resentment. Instead, I recommend indulging in the best your host country has to offer! My Moroccan dinner was far from a traditional Thanksgiving meal, but it was tasty and left my stomach with that familiar feeling of button-popping fullness.

3. Celebrate friendship

For me, the most difficult part was being away from loved ones. Holidays without them are, simply put, not the same. This doesn’t mean you can’t have a great time with the people around you. With an attitude of openness, you may find an opportunity for friendships to blossom. Although you and your loved ones may be apart, togetherness can still be found between new people.

4. Share your traditions

You’ve probably been spending a lot of energy recently trying to understand a different culture. You’ve put on their clothes, tasted their food, and spoken their language. You’ve taken the anthem, “When in Rome,” to new heights. But when the phrase becomes, “When in Rome for the holidays…” it’s time to switch things up. Cultural learning goes both ways. Take advantage of the opportunity to bring a few of your own traditions to the table. Tell that story about the time Aunt Susan lit the Christmas tree on fire. Recite that prayer your family always says to bless the food. Sing that song that gets stuck in your head this time of year.

Happy Holidays!

Danielle Douez

Danielle is a D.C.-born, Emory-educated communicator, thinker and creative community builder. She has a heart for social impact and strives to foster honest, open dialogue on critical global issues including race, gender, justice and democracy.

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