First recorded by Bing Crosby in 1943, “I’ll be Home for Christmas” has become a holiday staple because it revealed how to handle being homesick for the holidays.. A warm, cozy home with a decorated tree, hot chocolate, family, and Bing Crosby crooning on the radio has become the picture of the traditional American Christmas.

But what happens when you can’t make it home and how do you handle being homesick for the holidays? How do you create a memorable, “traditional” Christmas if you’re not surrounded by the comforts of home?

When I was a little girl, my family was marooned in another state on Christmas day. The family van had given up the ghost two days before, and there was no hope of repair in time to make it home. As a child, the thought of Christmas without presents and early morning traditions was nearly unbearable but it truly taught me how to handle being homesick for the holidays.

That Christmas has become one of my favorite memories, and the lessons I learned have stayed with me, even with a family of my own and new holiday traditions.

What Christmas is All About and How to Handle Being Homesick for the Holidays


Whether you celebrate Christmas as the birth of Christ or as simply a time for family, food, and fun, it isn’t just about the gifts. Or rather, it’s all about the gifts…but the ones we give, not the ones we receive.  

That morning, with no way to get home to my own toys and candy, I learned that Christmas is still Christmas even without a pile of material possessions.

Christmas is about the handful of odds and ends my parents managed to scrape together to stuff into makeshift stockings, desperate to give their six children some semblance of Christmas morning.

The toothbrushes and oranges and cheap chocolates weren’t the point; it was that they had gone out late the night before in a borrowed car to round up anything they could find so that we wouldn’t be completely empty-handed and learn how to handle being homesick for the holidays.

We hunkered down in our sleeping bags and pull-out sofas that Christmas Eve and wrote letters to each other, one to each sibling, Mom, and Dad.

how to handle being homesick for the holidays

credit: flickr creative commons

Instead of opening presents the next morning, we read notes expressing appreciation and love for each other. Those letters were a little taste of home, and they filled us with the spirit of Christmas we had naively thought would be absent that year.

Can you imagine how much more that meant as we learned how to handle being homesick for the holidays and allowed these letters to show our love for each other?

If you don’t have the means to get home or the money to buy gifts for those you love, give what you can. Anything, even a simple letter, is enough when it comes to making a Christmas away from home special is one of the best ways to handle being homesick for the holidays.


Christmas is about spending time with the people you love, and making the people you spend it with family whether or not they’re blood-related. If you can’t make it home to be with your family, find co-workers or neighbors that don’t have a home for the holidays and spend it with them.

My family was lucky that we were all together that year and bonding, we learned how to be homesick for the holidays. We still played games and ate traditional munchies and enjoyed each other, even though (and maybe because) we didn’t have all the usual presents to distract us.