Family photos and bright smiles around the holidays are a beautiful thing to see on social media. The only thing missing is you.
Your family is being a family without you. Look at them carrying on with their annual traditions while you scroll up and down their timelines, wondering if they forgot about you, kind of like a digital Home Alone. How dare they live life without you? So rude. Just when you thought you’d gotten over being homesick, it typically finds a way to resurface during the holidays. You have made Charlotte your home, but the rest of your family is holding you down in other parts of the world.
My family is split between South Carolina, North Carolina and Michigan. And because of my insane schedule, I have missed out on big holiday events when I couldn’t get a day off. Some years I have been fortunate to make it home just in time for Santa, and other times my family and I have exchanged gifts once the holidays have passed. I have friends who live too far from their families to make it home every holiday. To cope, we have crafted our own traditions in Charlotte:
(1) Attend a holiday social or host your own
Find your own festivities. Get in the spirit and join other partygoers for ugly Christmas sweater season. You’ll find plenty of gatherings dedicated to the season of fashion mishaps. Blackfinn is hosting an event this weekend.
If you’re looking for a more formal holiday experience, The Grays’ Holiday Party is a huge social event for Charlotte, benefitting the Gantt Center.
Going out not your thing? A night in more your speed? Bring the party to you. Build a playlist with your favorite holiday tunes, set up a hot cocoa bar and have your guests turn the night into a potluck shindig. The food won’t taste like grandma’s, but the company will be satisfying.
Not sure what to do with the kids? There are plenty of opportunities in Charlotte for the entire family to get into the spirit.
(2) Find holiday workout classes
Holiday goodies can be so disrespectful to your waistline. Skip the indulgences this year and work out, holiday style. Fitness groups like Queen City DanceOut! are revamping their workouts in conjunction with the season. The 7th Annual Jingle Bell Jam is a great way to burn some calories and collect Toys for Tots items.
(3) Get crafty
Impress your family from afar. Even if you can’t see them at your leisure, send creative gifts in the mail. If you’re strapped for cash or have too many gifts to buy, make your own. Try handmade holiday cards. Build Christmas treat jars. Print personalized seasonal tags. Pinterest is a craft lover’s Bible. You can find just about anything to make for every person in your life. Support local businesses like Paper Skyscraper, Three Little Birds or Beads, Inc. to purchase your items.
Turn it into a long distance gift wrapping party. FaceTime or Skype your loved ones and wrap presents (for other people) while you catch up.
(4) Spread the cheer, do some good
Adopt a child from the Salvation Army Christmas Tree. Register for the Christmas Community Meal with Charlotte Rescue Mission. Create a care package with gloves, socks and toiletries, then pass them out to homeless individuals around the city. Recruit some friends, visit a nursing home and organize a holiday door decorating party. (My Stolen Lunches friends and I did this last year at GoldenLiving Center.) Get creative and find a way to serve. The best way to feel love during any holiday season is to give it.