Thursday, December 13, 2012

Celebrating the Holidays Without Family

     This holiday season is different for us because for the first time we will be without both sides of our families for Thanksgiving and Christmas. These two holidays in particular have a heavy emphasis on family, and the lack of physical presence of these individuals could result in a rather blue holiday season. However, it can still be a time of joy! Not only do you have the incredible presence of setting the tone in your home on a daily basis, but you also set the tone for celebrating the holidays. Although I miss gathering with family on these holidays, I refuse to spend my time (and life) sullen over what is absent; but, instead, choose to be joyful of what is present. Simply stated- don't. give. up!

       One of my concerns in regard to holidays being just my husband and I is that the days would become just like any other. I still want to have Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day to be special. If I thought about it practically, then I could easily excuse myself from decorating, cooking, and reaching out or giving to others. Why put up a tree when only I would enjoy it? Without a family gathering, especially one with children, why bother with shopping or creating gifts? Why cook a big meal or treats for the food to go to waste (or waist)? Because these activities are ones that bring you joy and shouldn't be contingent on someone else. Consider for a moment what it is about the holiday or activity that you wish to celebrate. Then, determine how you will go about it this year. Perhaps conditions have changed, and so you need to alter the pathway to achieving that particular celebration. Congratulations- it's another opportunity for an experience through which to grow in life. 

     So, what will you do this year to celebrate the holidays? The following are a few ideas for brightening and sharing your holiday with or without family:

      For some, the gift shopping list gets shorter as children become adults or as fewer people are able to gather together. You could either consider the activity unnecessary now, or you could seize the opportunity to gift beyond your family. There are many children and families in need, and you could be the one to extend kindness and a helping hand. Select children from an Angel Tree or ask your church for a name of a child/family that might be in need of assistance for Christmas gifts. If you focused more on your family and their gift lists previously than giving to others, then now is your time to flip it around.

Food, Food, Food
      Thanksgiving and Christmas Day are typically centered around a nice big meal. (Well, in my family we always had a bigger dessert table than meal table each Christmas!). You can choose to make a meal yourself, and share it with others by inviting a few friends to join you. Or, if you choose to skip the feast, then perhaps consider serving others' theirs. Missions and shelters are typically open and serving a holiday meal on these days, and you could call and request to be a part of serving. 
      One food highlight of the Christmas time is all the many tasty desserts! Baking cookies each Christmas season is one of my favorite activities! Yet, I don't think it wise for us to make and eat so many sweets (but if challenged, I'd win). So, why not give some away? Most people love homemade cookies and treats, but perhaps not the process of making and baking. Christmas cookies are such a personal and simple way to share kindness and warmth with friends, coworkers, and..dare I say, the neighbor we haven't met yet.

     Decorate regardless of who is present to see them. They're primarily for your enjoyment and if someone else enjoys them too then that's a bonus. It isn't wise to decorate your home (non-holiday time) with the intention of impressing others, and so holiday decorations follow suit.

Connect  With Others
     Don't be afraid to reach out to others. The greatest injury you could cause yourself is to believe that everyone is too busy for you. If the night you chose was busy for most people, then try again. In the end, at least you can say you tried! It doesn't have to be anything fussy (doesn't television and magazine really blow the holiday entertaining aspect of things out of proportion?!). What is important is simply being together. And, don't forget the holiday cards. Yes, I know stamps are expensive and ecards/phone messages are easier, but there remains something so special about receiving a card in the mail. Perhaps, even take a moment to write a letter of reflection on the past year or a personal message to the recipient.

       Whatever way you've enjoyed celebrating the season in the past, I encourage you to press on in perhaps exploring a different avenues and maintaining those traditions. If you find yourself overcome with the blues, then perhaps take a walk outside. Sitting in the house (even if watching a holiday movie/show) will intensify that feeling of loss or loneliness. I would also recommend having a plan in mind for Thanksgiving Day or Christmas Day. You don't want to overwhelm the day, but again sitting around with so much unproductive time will not add anything special to the day(s). Bake a pie or cookies, or create a gingerbread house. Play a game together. Go drive around to look at lights one last time. This is your holiday season, and it's your decision to embrace it as it is and make the most of it. 

     Linked up at: Raising Homemakers, Growing Home, Time-Warp Wife, Womanhood with Purpose




  1. My husband and I live very far from family and have spent both of these holidays with just the two of us for several years now. It was a little hard to get used to at first, but the key, for us anyway, was to think of ourselves as a family even though it is only the 2 of us. You *are* a family, whether you have children or not.

    And then you have shared some FANTASTIC, practical ideas of coping as well. :)

    1. Thank you! We also like to think of ourselves as our own little family, even if it is just the two of us. :)

  2. Hey Whitney! This is such a great blog post on coping through the holidays without family! We live close to family, but over the last few years everyone has drifted apart. We've definitely found that doing some of the things mentioned, (angel tree, and decorating) have really helped! So I can agree these tips work! The above comment was also so right saying to think of your husband and yourself as family even without children.


    P.S. Love the new blog design! So wonderfully festive!

  3. Thanks for the encouraging post. We are also separated from family as we are on the mission field in Asia. I would love a visit at my new blog at We focus on parenting, frugal living, devotionals and preschool activities.

    Merry Christmas:0)
    Alison Wood


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