This post is brought to you by Disney. All opinions are my own.
Being far from home during the holidays is never easy. As someone who spent two years clear across the world, I know how hard it is to miss out on all your treasured traditions. Today, I’m going to share with you a few things you can do to make any place feel like home for the holidays. First, though, I have some exciting news for all my fellow Dory fans out there! You can get a FREE* Digital Graphic Novel when you buy Disney/Pixar’s Finding Dory, now available on Blu-ray™, Digital HD & Disney Movies Anywhere! Get details of the offer here.
When I was growing up, the holidays were a pretty huge deal. The weeks from Thanksgiving to New Years were filled with such incredible joy. My favorite memory is that of watching my grandmother go on a baking spree that lasted weeks and filled the kitchen with the most amazing aromas. She went all out making cookies, pies and my favorite food of all time, her famous dough ball soup. She only made it during the Christmas season because it was so time-consuming (she hand-rolled thousands of tiny dough balls and meatballs!), so if you couldn’t make it, you missed out for that year.
For most of my life, I’ve lived pretty close to my family, so I never had to miss out. Even when I lived a state away, I still made it back. There were two years, though, that I lived clear on the other side of the world, in Japan. Coming home for the holidays just wasn’t an option.
Whether you’re 7,000 miles away on the other side of the world or just a few towns away and stuck in a blizzard, missing out on going home for the holidays can make it hard to embrace the joy of the season. If you’re someone like me who absolutely loves the holidays, though, keeping a positive attitude can go a long way to making any place feel like home for the holidays.
I learned quite a few things during my time in a far off corner of the ocean, just like Dory learns many lessons about “going home” in Disney/Pixar’s Finding Dory. I’m sharing them with you today, along with some of my favorite inspiration from the world’s greatest regal blue tang, so you can bring that wonderful feeling of being “home for the holidays” to your season, no matter where you are.
5 Ways to Make Any Place Feel Like Home for the Holidays
Surround yourself with good friends
One of the things I loved about Finding Dory was how the movie really drove home the message of friendship. Dory may not be with her parents, but she’s found a family in Nemo and Marlin. Something that I learned during my time in Japan: friends are family too! My husband and I may have been far away from our relatives, but we were never far from family. Our house was always filled with his co-workers, especially during the holidays.
Keep up with your family’s traditions
I’m pretty sure I drove my husband nuts with the “holiday rules,” as they came to be called (lovingly, I think! I hope!). I have a ton of traditions, like getting a new ornament for my son every year and opening just one present the night before the big day. It’s important to keep as many of those traditions going, even if you’re the only one doing them.
One of my favorite traditions was our Christmas movie. After all the festivities, I would curl up with a new movie that I got in my stocking. I’ve always been a massive Disney fan, so that usually meant watching whichever film released around the holidays that year. This year, my son and I will be re-watching Finding Dory. We saw it in theaters, but like Finding Nemo, it’s one of those movies that you can watch a million times and always find a new life lesson or something else to laugh about together.
Make a few new traditions too!
Now is the perfect time to start a few new traditions, too! In Finding Dory, Dory’s parents left a trail of seashells so she could find her way home. Oh, the tears when the scene cut away to reveal those shell paths! Best part of the whole movie!
If you’re really missing someone, you could try putting a candle in the windowsill to light their way home (I recommend the ones with the little light bulbs rather than real flames, because I’m neurotic about fire hazards). Or make your own holiday version of the shells with luminary lanterns!
Connect with your family as often as possible
I was in Japan back in 1999-2001. We didn’t have even a fraction of the technology that we have now, so my only way of connecting with my family during the holidays was through the phone. Now, you have tons of options, so use them! I connect with my brother and his family through video chat all the time.
Since my niece was born on Christmas, it’s doubly important that we get to connect with them on that day! While it’s not the same as being there, it’s as close as you can get.
Embrace the journey and just keep swimming!
This is perhaps my most important piece of advice, not just to help you get through the holidays away from home, but for any time that you’re missing your family. Embrace the journey. There’s a reason why you’re not home right now. For me, I was newly married to my Sailor husband, living in an exotic country. Yes, it was hard at times, but it was also one of the most amazing experiences of my life.
When you’re feeling down, repeat Dory’s favorite mantra: Just keep swimming! Keep a positive attitude; let the good memories take you home in your mind and heart and dive whole-heartedly into the festivities that surround you. You might just find that you already are home for the holidays after all!