The author lives in Utah, USA.
One of America’s classic Christmas songs is Elvis’s rendition of “Blue Christmas.” I can’t stand it. Still, the lyrics, “I’ll have a blue Christmas without you. I’ll be so blue just thinking about you” can be all too relatable for young adults. Whether for missions, work, school, or because we or our family live abroad, plenty of us have to spend Christmas away from our family and friends.
Christmas is an incredible holiday to celebrate the Savior’s birth, but many of the traditions around Christmas focus on spending time with others: we gather to eat together; we give presents to others; we sing songs or read the Nativity story together.
So how can you make Christmas meaningful when you’re going it alone? Here are five ideas. Even if you’re a missionary you can do these activities, although you may have to adjust them or do them on a preparation day.
Just because you aren’t with your family doesn’t mean you can’t keep up your family traditions. Make those famously good gingerbread cookies or to-die-for tamales. Or, come up with your own traditions. When you’re choosing which traditions to do, focus on those that remind you of Christ: as you focus on the Savior, you will feel not just the spirit of Christmas but also the Holy Spirit, whose influence can bring you extra peace and comfort.
Most of my ancestors came from Norway, and many of my Christmas memories center around Norwegian traditions and food. Without my family, I can only do so many of these traditions, but I can still think about my roots. Christmastime is the perfect time to do family history work, whether that be finding names to take to the temple, researching how your ancestors may have spent their holidays, or even writing in your journal. Whatever you choose to do, getting back to your roots will help you feel more connected to your family—both those living and those who have passed—and bring you greater purpose.
This may take some guts, especially if you’re an introvert, but you don’t have to spend your Christmas completely alone. And you don’t have to go too far outside your comfort zone either: get together with other young adults for dinner, caroling, or to just hang out. There are probably other people like you who are spending their Christmas away from home, so especially look for those people who could use a friendly invite.
Depending on where you live, Christmas is smack dab in the middle of the coldest or warmest season, so take advantage of it! Go sledding or hiking, ice skating or biking. Or, if the outdoors aren’t your thing, stay inside and put up some decorations. There are plenty of easy Christmas decorations you can make that will make your space feel festive.
Few things will get you in the Christmas spirit more easily than serving. The Church has provided many resources to help you be able to serve others, whether that be through the #LightTheWorld campaign or JustServe.org. Sister Jean B. Bingham, Relief Society General President, reminds us that “simple acts of service can have profound effects on others—as well as on ourselves. What did the Savior do? Through His supernal gifts of the Atonement and Resurrection … ’none other has had so profound an influence [on] all who have lived and who will yet live upon the earth.’ But He also smiled at, talked with, walked with, listened to, made time for, encouraged, taught, fed, and forgave. He served family and friends, neighbors and strangers alike, and He invited acquaintances and loved ones to enjoy the rich blessings of His gospel.”1
You may not be home for Christmas, but you can still make your holiday special. President Thomas S. Monson (1927–2018) said, “When we have the spirit of Christmas, we remember Him whose birth we commemorate at this season of the year: ‘For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord’ (Luke 2:11).”2