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Making Your Home for the Holidays When You Can’t Make it Home

We’re going to keep it light at Gradifying this month. We’ve all been through enough. It’s been a long term. We (the proverbial ‘we’) are stressed, tired, maybe bruised up, and definitely ready for a break. I’m ready for a break, so I’ve been thinking about my break, because that’s what getting me through. I’m away from home this year, which has its obvious downsides for someone who’d like to see family and old friends. In this post, I’m speaking directly to folks in my position, and sharing some ways to close that sense of distance. But first, if you’re still in the throws of work, why bother thinking about your break.

Find your inner home.

Find your inner home.

There’s a lot of research in the performance literature that shows the effects of increased performance through using visualization. We’ve known about this for so long that it’s become common knowledge. There’s also excellent research demonstrating that this same process of visualization can reduce stress and anxiety. All you need to do is set aside the time, turn off your distractors (you know what they are), and let your mind go to wherever feels good, without judgment or bias. Just let yourself go there, … to your happy place. Let’s go now, to the holiday break..


I like going home to New Brunswick for Christmas. My family is into Christmas and I’m into Christmas, so the mood sets pretty naturally. But this year I’m in Alberta, almost as far as I can go without leaving this quaint little country. So I’m thinking about how I can shorten the distance. A search online for innovated ways yield pretty mind-bending and “savvy” stuff:

  • Send mass texts.
  • Call.
  • Blog.
  • Skype.

And the like. I admit, I was expecting a bit more Internet. There were a few that got me thinking though. The first one is mine, the second is Internet’s, and the third is mine again.



Make it Your Own:

Do it.

Do it.

There is a story from my childhood of a woman in my province who was lost in the woods for four weeks. Fortunately, she was experienced enough to know to stay put and how to use basic survival skills. That kept her body alive. What kept her mind alive was, as she said, “I had to make that little area my own.” She organized a very small part of the wilderness in much the same way that she would organize things in her regular life, and she adapted her routine in a way that simulated what she did in her regular life. With a little imagination, she was able to construct her environment so that it had a feeling of home. Luckily, we don’t have to pile utensil-looking twigs and rocks on a boulder to look like a kitchen. We have stores, to buy things. And most things we can do home, we can do elsewhere. You can recreate your holiday season in a lot of ways right where you are:

– Recipes. Get ‘em from your folks and cook ‘em up!

– Activities. What did you used to do when you were home? Traditions; games you played; routines. A bit of creativity and you’ll find yourself in a room with the tones of home.




Reaching Out to Those You Know:

You know what to do. If you’ve got a pen, a piece of paper, and 30 mins you’ve got a really kind gesture that will make your family or friend feel great, and that makes you feel great, too. If you don’t think it’ll make you feel better, prove it. If you don’t know other ways of keeping in touch with folks you know, (1) crawl out from under your rock and (2) do a Google search for “keeping in touch over the holidays”.



Reaching Out to Those You Don’t Know:

Very little warms the cockles more than helping others. If you haven’t volunteered during the holidays you’re missing an opportunity change someone’s life, or at the very least soften the hard edge that the holiday season can be for the less fortunate in our community. Say what you will about Kingston, but it is a great city for a lot of reasons, one of which is the plethora of volunteer organizations. Food banks, kitchens, the hospital, senior homes, children’s organizations, churches. No matter what you choose or what level of commitment you’re able to do, giving back contributes to making everyone feel a bit better.


Have you been thinking about your break yet? Go ahead and take 15 minutes. You’ll work better for it. I’m forced to try something new this year, so I’m going to take this season and make it my own. If you can’t find a way to be home with family and friends, I hope you find a way to narrow the gap. Please folks, share your ideas. I still have space for doing!

Posted in Families, General, Holidays, International, Kingston, New Students, Staying Well
One comment on “Making Your Home for the Holidays When You Can’t Make it Home
  1. Amanda Tracey says:

    Awesome post, Dustin! One thing I love to do around the holidays is visit a local humane society. You can walk dogs, and cuddle cats and simply provide companionship to these furry guys who don’t have a family to spend the holidays with!

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