Being home for the holidays is the stuff of legend. Songs, poems, even entire movies have focused on the timely return of a loved one just in time for the holiday festivities. While the magic of it all is enthralling on the small or silver screen, it’s not always the most realistic. For those of us who live away from home, the last minute plane ticket it takes to make it home can be a little too much of a hit in the wallet. That doesn’t mean, however, that we can’t still be in touch to celebrate with those we love.

In today’s digital age, we are flush with the means to be in a place we aren’t in physically. The first of these is, of course, the most old-fashioned. It’s the stuff of movie lore, and it’s known for costing just a quarter: the phone. It takes just a few taps, and we are suddenly and remarkably connected in near crystal clarity to those we love and cherish. Forget the expensive gifts; sometimes it takes a fifteen-minute phone call to make someone’s day, especially around the holidays. Cousins, aunts and uncles, even parents and grandparents appreciate a sincere conversation to just catch up. A simple “I miss you” can mean more than you may think. The holidays are a stressful time, and a few minutes spent conversing with those we love is enough to brighten up their day. So make sure it’s charged up, and dial away. It’ll go a long way to feeling like you’re right back at home.

If just the sound of a voice isn’t enough, we live in an age where almost everyone has a webcam readily available. Skype, Facetime, and any other app (sometimes just our phone service itself) affords us the ability to see our friends and family in real time. You can see the decorations, take in the tree and the presents, and sometimes, if you really focus, you can even smell the food. The holidays are chock-full of smiles and glowing faces, and video chat gives us the chance to be together in at least that small way. Just make sure you’ve got a good WiFi connection (or one hell of a data plan) and make that call. If you think the unexpected joy of a phone call is magical, wait until your mom hits that green button and sees your smiling face. Holiday win.

Surely, you’ve heard the mantra, “Take it as it is and make it how you want it.” Moving away from home often means being in a foreign land, in a new “home” that you have to work with. When you’re far from home in a bland apartment, any little thing can often make the biggest of differences. If you can’t make it home for the holidays, sometimes the best thing to do is to bring home to you. If you have a family tradition you enjoy, bring it to your new place, and put a little spin on it to make it your own. A special cookie recipe, a decorating tradition, or something as small as allowing the opening of one present a day early can make you feel like you’re right back at home. Couple that with a phone or video call, and you and your family can enjoy together the traditions you grew up with.

Being away from home doesn’t have to mean being far from it. Home is where the heart is, after all. If you have your heart in the right place, you can be back at home no matter where you are. The holidays–whichever of them your family celebrates–are a time to be with family in whatever way you can. While the heartbreak of missing those holiday hugs or late night card games can be hard to deal with, there are ways to make sure your holidays are just as full of warmth and love as the ones you spent growing up. So decorate your home, charge up your phone, and share your traditions, new and old, with all those you love. From those of us at The Guide, we wish you all the best and brightest this holiday season. For what it’s worth, we’re with you.

Happy Holidays.

Merry Christmas.

Happy Hanukkah.

Enlightened Bodhi Day.

Happy Id Al-fitr.

Merry Kwanzaa.

Joyous Festivus.

Happy Yule.

Happy Winter Solstice.

Best Wishes,

The Gentleman’s Guide to Everything

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