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6 Tips for Celebrating Christmas Away From Home

Because of COVID-19, travelling home for the holidays isn’t an option for many of us this year. Spending the holidays alone is the reality rather than the exception for a lot of people; however, a lot of university students still travel home most years, and for most of us, this will be the first year away from our families. I definitely didn’t appreciate the luxury of being able to fly home and spend time with my family as much as I could’ve pre-pandemic.

While the holidays can be stressful and bear the weight of far too many expectations, I’m still sad to be so far away, so here are a few suggestions on how to celebrate your first Christmas away from home!

Decorate.

Decorating isn’t for everyone, but I’ve found that I need that extra boost of cheer this winter. Dollar stores usually have cheap, fun decorations. Throw up some garlands, buy a tiny plastic tree and decorate your house plants with lights! Make sure to store the decorations safe somewhere for next year, though, so that they’re not going to waste.

Video call.

My family usually opens gifts together, so this year, we’ll do so over video. There are so many options for this: Zoom, Facebook Messenger, FaceTime, Skype and more! While it’s not the same, it definitely makes those far-off relatives feel a little closer.

Order your gifts online.

A lot of local stores have online shops and offer shipping. It costs a little extra, but it can be worth it! Please don’t order from Amazon and other websites that act as a middleman — buy from the source if you can!

Find people to spend it with. 

I’m lucky to live with wonderful people who are also staying for the holidays, but if that’s not the case for you, find a friend who is! According to BC regulations, as long as your bubble remains closed, people who live alone are allowed to join another household. If you live somewhere else, though, double-check to ensure that this is safe. 

Cook a nice meal.

One of the best parts of the holidays is the food (and being fed, not going to lie). While your parents probably won’t be able to cook for you long-distance, you can still make a nice meal. Make some mashed potatoes, buy a bit of ham and roast some vegetables. If the classic meal isn’t really your thing, find a recipe for a comforting soup! Make fancy pasta! If you’re anything like me, you probably haven’t cooked anything big in a while because of school, so winter break is the perfect time to get creative.

Catch up on your hobbies.

Put on a holiday movie and knit a scarf. Read that book that’s been sitting on your nightstand for months. Binge-watch a limited series that you haven’t had time for (The Queen’s Gambit, I’m coming for you!). Relax, and let yourself enjoy the time off. Even if you’re working, take some time to recuperate. It’s been a rough semester, and you deserve it.

I hope one of these suggestions sparks your interest! 2020 has been a bizarre year on all counts, but we’ve almost made it through. I wish you a very Merry Christmas, alone or with family, and I’ll see you all in the New Year.

Eli Mushumanski is a queer Writing and English Honour undergrad in their fourth year at the University of Victoria. They specialize in fiction and poetry. Their work has been published by The Albatross, The Warren, and Flare: The Flagler Review, and they are a fiction editor at UVic's literary journal, This Side of West. When not caught up by schoolwork or reading, Eli plays Stardew Valley and chats with their mom on the phone.
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