I’ve often told people that when our family migrated to Southern California from rural Wisconsin, it was like moving to the moon. Everything about our new home felt like a foreign culture. Four months later, Christmas came. We hadn’t made new friends yet and the daytime temperature was something like 74 degrees, but heading home wasn’t possible.
Are you one of the many missionaries who doesn’t have to worry about holiday travel woes because going home isn’t an option? Like my wife Jackie and I back then, your issue is how to make your family (or team members) feel at home during this season. It takes some creativity, but you can make your home away from home feel like home. Here are some ideas.
Start a new tradition
One benefit of being away from home is that it gives you an opportunity to establish a new home. Starting new traditions hastens this process. We didn’t have a lot of disposable income that first Christmas in California. But we went to the mall together and had a contest. We each got $5.00. The challenge was to find the coolest, most creative gift you could for that amount. The boys went off together, Jackie and I split up, and we all rendezvoused an hour later at the food court. For years after, this was one of the kids’ favorite parts of Christmas.
Find a place to serve
So many needs are on display around Christmas, most of which put our need to feel at home in proper perspective. Going as a family or team to help meet one of these needs can drive home the message of Christmas in memorable way. One idea is to agree as a family to pool money that you’d normally spend on gifts for one another and give it to a person or family who you know needs it desperately.
Open your home
I wish we’d thought of this that first Christmas in California, but some years later we hand-delivered invitations to every home on our block for a Sunday-afternoon Christmas open house. It was fun making finger foods and snacks for the event. And we invited those who could come to bring a dish to share. More than a dozen neighbors showed up, some of whom we had never met. And most who came stayed an hour past the official ending time. People just loved having conversation in a relaxed atmosphere.
Do you stay on the field during Christmas? What are some ways you’ve been able to make it feel like home? Leave a comment and let us know.