How to Cope with the Expat Christmas Blues

Don’t be alone on Christmas! (WLPB)

Unless you’d rather visit Guantanamo than your family during the festive season, chances are you’ll be feeling a little glum come late December. Here’s how to lift your Christmas spirits when you’re thousands of miles from the people you love.

1. Host an “orphans” Christmas
If you haven’t got anywhere to be on the 25th, take matters into your own hands. Put the word out on social networking sites that you’re roasting a bird and any local stragglers are welcome to join you. Of course, keep things safe by limiting the invite to friends, acquaintances and friends of friends.

2. Skype the folks back home
Check in with your family at key Christmas day moments – the present opening, the carving of the turkey, the Queen’s Speech and when granddad starts snoring erratically in his armchair.

3. Order in your British festive favorites
If you can’t find them in the shops, order a Christmas pudding, crackers and mince pies off Amazon.com. Just don’t cheap out of express delivery or your goodies might not make it on time.

4. Volunteer
If you can’t host and you’re not exactly awash with invitations, don’t wallow. Check out which charities, local churches and soup kitchens need help serving up Christmas dinner to the needy. This should put your own misery into perspective and it’s a great way to meet people in a similar situation.

5. Go on holiday
Pack your bags, head somewhere sunny and forget all about Christmas. There are plenty of last minute deals available for anyone with the will – and funds – to escape a home alone Christmas. Or, spend the money importing a friend from Blighty. There must be someone in your life who’d appreciate a free trip, not to mention the pleasure of your company.

6. Treat yourself
Faced with a Christmas spent away from home, feel better by treating yourself to all your favorite things. Book a massage for Christmas Eve, spend the day itself in bed surrounded by booze and chocolate and, on Boxing Day, hit the shops.

7. Buy or borrow a pet
A little – preferably furry – companion will cheer your right up. For best results, put it in a Santa suit and weep tears of restorative laughter. An elf costume works just as well. Note: don’t try this with a goldfish.

8. Watch heart-warming Christmas movies
Thousands of films have been made with the express purpose of cheering up lonely, miserable people at this time of year. Choose five or six to get you through the festive period and combine with any of the above.

What are your plans for Christmas?

Ruth Margolis

Ruth Margolis

Ruth is a British freelance journalist who recently swapped east London for Brooklyn. She writes about TV for Radio Times and is working on her first novel.

See more posts by Ruth Margolis