What Not to Say During the Holidays



The holiday season is always full of expectations. This year, do it your way.


This November, I found myself correcting almost anyone who asked me about my holiday. “Oh, I don’t think I’m going home this year,” I would say. As soon as the words left my mouth, many faces fell, as though they immediately conjured up a sad image of a table full of food with only one seat occupied. Regardless of the reason someone chooses to stay on campus for a holiday, the response that no one feels like tolerating without context is anything along the lines of “That’s sad.”

The automatic assumption that an unhappy feeling is associated with not spending holidays at home can prove detrimental to one’s ability to make a healthy decision. The stigma associated with not spending the holidays at home creates pressure to go home to see family, even if a family environment only induces stress and anxiety.

The holidays are meant to be spent with people that are meaningful to you. For many, that may mean devoting time to family. But it may also mean spending time with others you appreciate in an equal capacity, or taking the time for yourself. Each is perfectly okay.

Spending holidays alone does not make you a scrooge, nor does it mean you are shunning your own family.

Take your time off to do whatever makes you feel best. That might be cooking dinner for yourself and a few other people, exploring your town or city with your friends, reading a book, setting up holiday decorations or plenty of other possibilities. You might even find yourself celebrating the holiday with relatives of someone close to you.

In not going home for this past holiday, I found myself more reflective on what going home may truly mean for my state of mind. Aside from why I chose not to spend my time off in the house I grew up in, taking time away from the environment allowed me to reflect upon the impact it had on my growth and process the emotions that may accompany my inevitable December return. Despite the questions I encountered when stating my plans, I daresay that I gained something as beneficial as a full stomach in the experience.

When someone you know is not celebrating the time with their relatives, the go-to response should not be, “I’m sorry.” The fact itself does not warrant a piteous reaction, and two words or even just a sigh only emphasizes the confusion and guilt that comes with self-induced independence. There is a strength in doing what it takes to truly enjoy this time of year, and as long as you leave the season feeling better than when you entered it, your holidays were a success.