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The challenge of celebrating Chritmas abroad and alone

December arrives and with it the Christmas holidays. In many cultures, December and January represent festivities, restart and new opportunities. So many families traditionally get together, exchange gifts, and have meals together, mainly celebrating Christmas. For many immigrants these family memories bring encouragement, but at the same time living in another country, often alone, makes Christmas a difficult time.

Spending Christmas away from home is a unique experience. The Christmas atmosphere is contagious, but when we're away from family and friends, it's hard to get over this moment. You feel lonely and sad as you remember your family together, your close friends, the moments that make Christmas the most anticipated time of year for many people. My first Christmas away from family was in 2018 when I moved to the Netherlands. Although I was not alone (I was together with husband and son), there were no parents, in-laws, brothers, or nephews. No friends and no relatives. Of course the Christmas atmosphere is contagious with the decorations and traditional foods of this time, but I also realized that the festive dates here were different from my country. Christmas was different. It is necessary to face this moment with an open mind, being flexible to understand and respect this new experience. Living and learning.

For those who are going to spend Christmas alone in another country, I suggest thinking about the meaning of this season for you: what does it mean, how can you celebrate, what mood do you want to bring to your life right now? These are important reflections to create Christmas according to you and this new reality. Don't be stuck with what was lived or idealized. Here are some suggestions on how to spend Christmas alone and not feel lonely:

1) Do a good deed! Volunteering is quite common at this time, and helping others is a way to shift your focus and make other people's Christmas happier. Even if it is not possible to be present as a volunteer, you can write letters, send messages online. Turning your Christmas into happiness for others.

2) Can't cook? This is the opportunity to start exercising your culinary skills. When we live far from home, learning to cook is fundamental for a healthy life. If you're missing your favorite dish, use this free time to practice. Search for the family recipe, practice, make your Christmas dinner a new learning experience.

3) Look for alternatives to overcome this moment. This might be a good time to cross off items from your list that have been there for so long. Have you thought about your New Year's resolutions? Make a list and set goals. Thinking about the future is always a good alternative to dispel sadness and fill your mind with hope.

4) Neither better nor worse – just different. Living in the moment instead of making comparisons is the first step to spending a good Christmas away from home. Spending commemorative dates alone can be difficult, but it is possible to build alternatives, new traditions, a moment of your own to celebrate Christmas according to what it can mean to you.

Merry Christmas and enjoy your great company.

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