Some of us want to go home for the holidays, but can’t. Home isn’t what it used to be. Others of us don’t want to go home for Christmas, perhaps for the exact same reason. Home isn’t what it used to be.
You might be able to go back to your geographical home for the holidays — the city you were born in, the country you grew up in, even the house you and your family lived in. But you can never go home the way you could when you were a kid. And that may mean you don’t even want to go home for Christmas. Now, being home for the holidays might cause more pain, grief and loneliness than spending the Christmas season somewhere else…or even alone.
In 7 Secrets for Surviving a Lonely Christmas I quote Kate Bosher: “Isn’t it funny that at Christmas something in you gets so lonely for — I don’t know what exactly, but it’s something that you don’t mind so much not having at other times.” The holiday loneliness she’s talking about is what compelled me to share these ideas for coping when you don’t want to go home for Christmas.
Thinking “I don’t want to go home for Christmas” isn’t the hardest part. It’s even harder to tell your family and friends that you don’t want to go home for the holidays. I know how that feels. I also know how long it takes to accept it, talk about it, and actually do what you really want to do at Christmas.
I haven’t been home — to my own family home with my biological sister, mom, and grandma — for 20 years. That home doesn’t exist anymore. Now that I’m married to a man with many brothers and sisters, I’ve been going to his family’s home for Christmas. It’s fine, but it’s not my home. They’re a nice family, but they’re not my people. I’m lonely there.
So this year I’m trying something different.
When You Don’t Want to Go Home for Christmas
For several years I’ve wanted to do something more meaningful at Christmas. Going home for the holidays is important and meaningful for many people, but not everyone has a home or family to visit. Where do they go? That’s where I want to be.
And that is indeed where I will be this year. In the hospital…which is exactly what I prayed for. Some might say I “manifested” the fact that I’ll be spending Christmas Eve at the hospital instead of going to my husband’s home for the holidays. I’m starting to wonder if there’s more truth to that than I realize.
Where would you rather spend your holidays? Dream, wonder, imagine!
I write to God every morning in my journal. I try to listen, but find myself mostly talking. A couple months ago I told God I don’t want to go home for Christmas (I’ve actually been telling saying this every year for at least five years). Instead, I said to God, I want to spend Christmas in the hospital. I want to visit patients who are lonely and sad because they’re not home for the holidays. I want to bring light, life, compassion, peace and even joy to sick people. I want to be light and love!
So, jokingly, I told God to put me in the hospital for Christmas. I thought it’d be easiest if I was a patient; I wasn’t sure if I could just walk into hospitals, and walk around visiting people. Seemed a bit odd. Better to be a patient, and even have the chance to cheer up the nurses and hospital staff. And — ho ho ho, Merry Christmas — that’s exactly where I’ll be.
If you have nowhere to spend the holidays, read Where to Go When You Can’t Go Home.
Talk to God about not wanting to go home for Christmas
Last week I found out I have to go for a CT (computerized tomography) scan on December 24 at 5 pm. Christmas Eve in the hospital, just like I asked for! I’ll be in the hospital for the holidays — and it’s not even a serious injury or medical condition (although it could be. The CT scan is to give the doctors more information about the pain I’ve been experiencing for several weeks. I describe it in 15 Ways to Pass the Time While You’re Waiting in the Emergency Room).
I didn’t specifically pray for a CT scan so I could be in the hospital on Christmas Eve, but I would have if I knew it was an option. That’s why I don’t often pray for specific things. I don’t know what God knows, I have no idea what the Holy Spirit is creating, and I am open to following Jesus Christ wherever He leads. So I pray more openly. I say things like “God, I don’t want to go home for Christmas. I’d rather be in the hospital, comforting and consoling patients who do want to be home for the holidays.”
Talk to friends and family — but be careful who you open up to
Telling people you don’t want to go home for Christmas is a touchy subject! I found out the hard way that it is very difficult to be honest about how I really feel. People don’t get it. Even my friends tried to talk me out of finding ways to serve or volunteer at Christmas. “Serve your husband, and you serve God,” one friend said. “Are you sure there isn’t some unfinished emotional issue in you that is making you run away from family holidays?”
Talking to my friends and family about not going home for the holidays wasn’t helpful for me…but it might help you figure out what to do when you don’t want to go home for Christmas. Surprisingly, my husband was actually more supportive than anyone! But it may be because he knows me best. He knows that I’ve been longing for years to spend Christmas in a more meaningful way. He understands.
If you live with your family, read 9 Ways to Survive Abusive Parents When You Can’t Leave Home. They may not be “abusive”, but you’ll find the tips helpful in any situation that involves people.
Decide what “home” means to you…and go there
To me, going home for Christmas means having meaningful interactions with people — even people I just met. I yearn for honest discussions, deep conversations, and joyful activities. When my husband’s nephews were younger, we’d go tobogganing on the snowy hills near the house. That was the most meaningful, joyful activity I had when I went home for the holidays. We only did that three or four years, though. The boys grew up and everything changed.
My most meaningful Christmas was volunteering at Easter Seals Christmas Camp Horizon in Bragg Creek, Alberta. I spent four days at “Christmas Camp” with adults with physical and mental health issues. Down syndrome, Cerebral palsy, autism — everyone was unique. Even the ages ranged wildly; my “girl” was a 62 year old woman with Down syndrome. Boy, she made Christmas meaningful! That was going home…and I’d never been there before. She was my family…and I’d never met her before that Christmas.
Maybe you can’t go home for the holidays, or maybe you just don’t want to. That season of your life has passed. It’s over, and you can’t go back.
But you can move forward into a new season of life. You can find new ways to make Christmas meaningful. Maybe you can even go home again…if you know what home means to you now, in this new season of your life.
In the Spirit of Jesus,
P.S. If moving into a new season is difficult, read When You’re Homesick for Your Old Life.