To the Girl Who Feels like It's Hard to Go Home for the Holidays

Let me preface by saying that I technically never went home for the holidays in college because I went to school in the same town I grew up in. I also see my parents a few times a week but I do not live with them. Part of this post is about learning to navigate being an adult while also still being your parents’ child. This task has been incredibly difficult over the last four years of my life. It has seemingly never been easy no matter how many times I’ve read Boundaries by Dr. Henry Cloud (a great read that I highly recommend) or processed through things with my close friends. My point is that I understand how you feel even if going “home for the holidays” to me means going three miles down the road.

I don’t know what your life looks like, and I’m not sure why going home for the holidays is hard for you. But I do know the feeling of shutting yourself up in your old room, a sibling’s room they’re temporarily sharing with you, or a guest room where your personality used to once decorate its walls and only appearing during the obligatory family dinners, the unwrapping of presents, and filing into the car for the Christmas Eve service.

 Or maybe, it’s hard because your life looks nothing like that, maybe your parents don’t believe in Jesus but you found Him your first semester of college. Maybe this is the first holiday season where it’s different because you’re different. It might be hard, but you aren’t alone. For me, my parents are Christian, but I feel a generational difference between us that I can’t explain that has provided points of contention.

Not that my parents are wrong or that I’m wrong but that generation gap just opens avenues for differences that sometimes can’t be bridged. I think if you communicate with your parents well, then that’s awesome and I would absolutely be open with them when you feel like they are not treating you like the adult that you are. If things communication-wise are not that great, I would encourage you to keep in contact with friends you’ve made since getting to college and tell them about your struggles, have them pray for you. I wish I had done that my first holiday break in college because it was one of the loneliest times of my life.

Because of that season, I also want to write to the girl who’s finding it hard because this is the first Christmas without someone in your life that’s always been there. I lost my grandmother within my first week of college and those first holidays without her were hard. The rawness wasn’t exactly still there by Thanksgiving or Christmas, but her absence was gaping to me and probably other members of my family. We only ever really spent holidays with this side of the family, my mom’s side. So the first holidays without my mom’s mom were incredibly hard.

I tried to find the joy in watching the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade or White Christmas or Elf or even those sappy Hallmark channel movies with the predictable plots but then in the quiet, her absence was still apparent. If you are close to losing or have just lost someone, or even if it’s been years since you have and it still makes the holidays hard, I’m so sorry, I know how that feels so deeply. I once again encourage you to keep in contact with friends you’ve made and talk to them when times get lonely.

During the holidays, it’s easy to become desensitized to the stereotypical verses that are everywhere: the ones about being thankful during Thanksgiving or the ones about the expectancy of Christ’s birth. It’s easy to become desensitized to Christianity in general if you are returning home to an environment that doesn’t celebrate Him in any way, shape, or form. 

I would encourage you to stay steadfast, keep your quiet time routine up, and find a church at home if you don’t have a home church away from school. Know that you’re not wrong or crazy for feeling different from your parents or still grieving the loss of your loved one with the reminder that this is your first Thanksgiving or Christmas without them. Please know most of all that Christ is holding you in His hands through all of this.

You will get through this season even if it feels like six straight weeks of darkness. There is light. He is the light and He loves you.

Marisa Williams // @marisathebibliophile


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Hey y’all! I’m Marisa! I’m a twenty-two year old recent college grad from Western Kentucky University. I have a bachelor’s degree in English with a minor in Folk Studies. I’m originally from Dayton, Ohio but have lived in Bowling Green, Kentucky for the last twelve years. I like all things chocolate and ice cream related (especially chocolate ice cream), I love to write about what I’ve learned on my walk with God, and when I’m not writing, I can be found crocheting, reading, or playing my ukulele.