Hearing “home for the holidays” often conjures memories of family vacations, family dinners and other family activities.
However, when you have family that is no longer at home, the holidays might not seem as “Hallmark” as they once did.
Holidays can be hard when families are grieving, and the time of year does not make the pain disappear. There are individuals, like myself, that tear up at the thought of Thanksgiving because I will never taste my mom’s cooking again.
I also cannot enjoy Christmas like I did when I was younger. Christmas movies make me sad, to see dads chopping down trees and singing carols, when I will never hear my dad’s voice again.
Then there are those who are missing family members that have not passed away but are just far away. Brothers and sisters at war and cousins and uncles locked away behind bars — missing loved ones who make us laugh and make us feel warm inside when the weather outside is chilling.
For some, being home for the holidays is not in the cards. As a college student, I know going home for holiday breaks can be a luxury. College is expensive and so are plane and bus tickets. I have peers from other countries who have come to the U.S. for an education. For them, campus will be home for the holiday season. Even those who live in the U.S., like me — whose hometown is three hours away and a $50 ticket from campus — can’t afford to take that trip, not when my student account says I owe more money than I’ve ever seen touch my bank account.
So, how do we battle this “seasonal depression” and avoid being the honorary Scrooge?
The holiday blues can manifest in many ways. Due to less sunlight and depression gluing us to our beds, we could be feeling a little more fatigued than normal. If you’re not getting enough sun, consider D vitamins.
If you’re not as active, did you know there’s a thing called Lazy Yoga? You can stretch and do small workouts in bed.
Also, change your diet. Depression can affect our appetites, causing us to eat less or binge junk food. Eat more fruit and vegetables, and avoid food that is high in sugar and fats. If you’re not up for eating a full meal and can only manage to snack during the day, select grapes or celery sticks. Something small but healthy can increase your energy as well.
Though the holidays can feel lonely, you are not alone in your emotions. This could be the first Thanksgiving without your grandmother or the first Christmas without your siblings. There are others experiencing the same.
Emotions can be difficult to navigate. What’s most important is to take care of yourself. All we can do is our best, and our best always is good enough.
During times when you’re lacking confidence, don’t be afraid to reach out for help. Family isn’t always blood-related and home isn’t always your family’s residence. It’s perfectly fine if this holiday looks not-so-Hallmark.
Rasharra Smith is a student at the University of Dubuque.