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Moving during the holidays

By Diane Schmidt

After a move, whether you’ve lived in your new home for a few months or a few weeks before the holidays, you’ll still miss familiar surroundings. Most of all, you’ll miss family and friends and group celebrations. It’s not easy being away from those you love, even if it’s just a state away. It’s difficult, and sometimes even more difficult for those who move even further afield.

I once moved to another country just before Christmas. It wasn’t my choice, rather it was the job that dragged me away at a time of year when I most need familiar places and people. Being in another country, where the residents spoke another language and celebrated the holidays differently, was hard; harder still was the time difference that prevented me from calling my family when I needed to the most.

If you find yourself away from those you love at holiday time, there are some things you can do to help get through the emotional distance and loss you’re experiencing. Here are just some suggestions to help you deal with the distance:

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Keep familiar things around you. Objects that remind you of home and what home
means to you will help you feel more at home. For instance, I inherited my mother’s
tree ornaments after she passed away; they always remind me of childhood
Christmases when the whole family would be together. I took those ornaments with me
to my new home and carried on the tradition, remembering my family as I hung each
one. Some people may find this remembering difficult; if you do, then you may want to
start your own traditions by possibly incorporating some of the local ways of
celebrating.
Invite people over. Being in a new city, state or country means that there are probably
other people around who are also new to the area. Throw what I call an “orphan”
dinner party; with orphan meaning that each attendee is away from family and friends.
Offer each guest the opportunity to bring a friend, spouse, and their children. It’s pretty
amazing to see how many other people are like you, and before you know it, you’ll have
created your own family with whom you can always share holidays.
Get out of the house. It’s pretty easy to feel sorry for yourself, staying inside the entire
time, afraid that if you do go out, everyone who passes you by knows that you’re alone,
pity in their eyes. Well, as much as that’s how it might feel, it couldn’t be further from
the truth. Get outside. Go for a morning coffee or a walk along the waterfront or
through a local park. Maybe see a movie or have lunch or dinner in a favourite
restaurant. Talk to people. Try to enjoy the quiet and solitude. It’ll help get you out of
your skin for a bit. And all of us can always use a bit of that.
Make lots of phone calls. Reach out to people you know locally, and all your friends and
family who are far away. Buy presents. Wrap them fondly. Mail them off with lots of
love and know that you’ll be missed. Let people know that you’re feeling lonely; it’s
okay.
Rent sentimental movies. If you like the warmth that nostalgia indulgence brings, then
rent some favourite movies, make some favourite snacks and let yourself feel what
you’re feeling. If you aren’t the kind of person who enjoys nostalgia, rent some movies
that will let you escape completely; escaping is fine. Each of us has our own way of
dealing with difficult times.
Play music that makes you feel good. Music is also an emotional memory transporter,
taking us back to a favourite time and place.
Go off the diet. As with every holiday, allow yourself to indulge a bit. Buy your favourite
foods, and try to share them with others. If you’re in another country, and can’t find
favourite items, ask friends or family members to ship you a care package. Nothing says
home like comforting food.
Check out your community. Every community celebrates the holidays differently. Make
up a list of all the activities you’d like to do, find out where you can do them and when,
they set out to discover your neighbourhood. Or, check out the local newspaper or
community bulletin board to see how people are celebrating, then make a date to go to
at least two events. It’s a great way to begin feeling at home in your new space, while
giving you a chance to meet new people.