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Question: This year I am away from my family for the holidays because I recently moved to a new state and haven't accrued enough vacation time to travel back home. I moved for my job and so I don't have many friends here. At first, I didn't think it was such a big deal but now that Christmas is getting closer, I feel more distant from my family and home. Having no friends or family in the area, it's hard to have a good holiday, do you have any suggestions? (Oakland, CA)
Social Shrink: Not to worry! Just because you are alone doesn't mean your Christmas will be ruined. No one should be alone during the holidays. Look at this as a great opportunity to do something new for the holidays and make new friends.
One of the most fulfilling and high-impact ways to spend Christmas is volunteering in some capacity. If you are good with kids, you can dress up as Santa and hand out gifts at the Children's Hospital. Or, if you like to cook, you can help prepare meals at your local homeless shelter. Offer to help pass out gifts to families at your local toy and gift drive. Plenty of places are always looking for volunteers, especially during the holidays!
We recommend checking out two volunteer sites to find ways you can get involved during the holidays:
- VolunteerMatch - Here you can search opportunities by location and keyword.
- United We Serve - This is an online resource for not only finding volunteer opportunities in your community, but also creating your own. Use this site to extend your volunteering even beyond the holiday season.
You will not only do a good service to people in need, but you won't be alone for the holidays - and I'm sure you will find the work very rewarding! Seeing what others don't have during the holiday season will make you grateful for what you do have. There's nothing like spending Christmas with others that appreciate the small things in life.
The other day, I volunteered at a family shelter during their holiday party and when Santa handed out presents, the parents cried because they thought their children wouldn't get anything this year. I was surrounded by strangers, yet we all came together to provide for these kids who were also prepared by their parents not to expect much. When they even saw Santa they were ecstatic and seeing their eyes filled with hope and excitment made my day. With no plans of your own, approach this opportunity as a gift to give to others. Volunteering your time to be with others who may be less fortunate is truly spreading the spirit of the holidays. Now that is a Merry Christmas!