You might be as far away as another country or as close as the same city and still not get to see your family and friends during the holidays this year—a harsh reality that no one could have predicted pre-pandemic. It’s already been too much alone time, even for folks with an introverted streak like myself, so I get it if you’re feeling emotional about forgoing your normal holiday plans.
Of the eight years I lived abroad in Europe, I got to celebrate the holidays with my friends and family back home maybe twice. Before you hit me with “it was your choice to move far away,” absolutely, you’re right. I did not choose, though, to make a salary in Spain that’s below the poverty line in the U.S., only being able to afford a flight home once a year, and having a limited amount of vacation days.
The silver lining is that I learned how to spend the holidays “alone” and away from home. My understanding of what home means changed along with these newfound skills. It’s true when they say that, “Home isn’t a place, it’s a feeling,” and you can recreate that feeling just about anywhere. While I’m going to share with you how I experienced the holidays on my own while I was abroad, I’m also going to help you figure out how to recreate those warm fuzzies in a pandemic-friendly way.
Leave no one behind
Y’all are probably so sick of me harping on about the kindness of strangers and how willing people are to help you when you’re living abroad, but it’s no joke. Though not complete strangers by the time the holidays rolled around, I swiftly got swept under the wings of my new friends and brought along to their family functions. I hardly had a choice—it was a simple, “You have nowhere to go, so you’re coming with us.”