The holiday season is a time for most people to think about the simple things in life: Figuring out traveling schedules, planning to eat tons of home cooked food, and spending time with family and friends from their hometowns. But for many people, this isn’t the reality for us this holiday season.
In fact, it seems like more and more people — particularly twentysomethings — are choosing to spend the holiday season away from their families — spending it instead in the company of friends. And that’s not a bad thing.
To me, the shift in tradition is more than just a way to shake things up. It’s a way of pushing forward with self-care and re-centering ourselves.
At first, not going home may seem like a betrayal to your family members. But dig a little deeper, and you’ll find it’s not that black-and-white.
For many people, not going home is a way to truly center themselves after a year that demanded a lot from us.
The act of not going home for the holidays can seem selfish. Your relatives may consider it to be an unnecessary way to break tradition.
But I think — especially for people who define family and connection in ways beyond the stereotypical — staying home and redefining these definitions is essential.
After all, this time of year is best used for reflection. It’s a time to prepare for making the next year the best one that it can be.
What does it mean to define tradition and family outside of blood relations, outside of the ways that people say we should? What would happen if we pushed past tradition and obligation, and choose instead to do things simply because we wanted to?
Staying home for the holidays gave me time to really reflect on these questions, and how they affect me.
And truly, staying home — instead of forcing myself to go to a family function that I didn’t want to attend — was one of the best decisions I could have made.
When I stayed home for Thanksgiving, I was confronted with the quiet energy in the city. It also made me examine ways that I can connect with my family, blood or otherwise, in ways that aren’t bound just by the holidays.
I’m lucky and grateful that I get to connect with my family multiple times a year, outside of the holidays. I’m even luckier that I got to find a friend group in my new city that I can lean on whenever I need to — a group of people who also understand the importance of connection.
We need to stop shaming those who don’t want to, can’t, or just don’t go home for the holidays. Instead, maybe we should start realizing that, by not going home for the holidays, we can potentially reevaluate what’s really important, for ourselves and for those that we care about.