I’m a bit of a nomad. It hasn’t been deliberate. I hate packing, and living out of a suitcase turns me into demon-troll with evil smelling feet. I never remember my tooth-brush or shampoo or more than one pair of tights, and somehow I think I can easily get by without a towel.

But having lived away from my family home since I was eighteen, and away from my Mother Land (the land where my mother is) for the last three years, I have tips. Not about packing, clearly. But about how to get through – and enjoy – important events spent away from loved ones. Guy Fawkes is usually fine. Fireworks look the same in all hemispheres. But Christmas – Christmas is tricky. Sometimes, you need a little guidance to be jolly. Here are my tips:

This child is hopefully spending Christmas with his family.
This child is hopefully spending Christmas with his family.

Drink

Just, do. This is 90% of what Christmas is for (4% turkey, 3% candy canes, 4% reduced online shopping, 2% learning about maths). It’ll make you more relaxed and more amenable to shoving your hand up a dead bird’s anus. Or anything’s anus. Alcohol is good like that.

Help

My boyfriend’s mother is a saint among humans. Some days, I can see the shadow of her halo. She also sparkles in the sun, but that is something different. She likes doing things herself – or that is what my boyfriend tells me, as he plays his 47th hour of Xbox for the day. But helping out in the kitchen will make you feel good. Especially if you have already had a large quantity of mulled wine. Peeling carrots is another thing that is the same in all hemispheres. PRO-TIP: Do not offer to unload the dishwasher. You will suck at it, and everyone will get upset, and no one will find the mug that you finally, desperately, hid in the dryer until it is too late.

Hermit

You can’t do this the whole holiday. Jesus only took three days to come out of his cave, and you are not Jesus. But if you are melancholic and sad and thinking of your family barbequing in bikinis in the sun whilst you lie on your back on the sidewalk in a patch of black ice, you will not be good company. Not even the turkey being fingered will enjoy it. Find a room, close the door. Read the chapter about Felix Felices from Harry Potter. Surf fatshion blogs. Write little whiny messages on Whatsapp. Take an hour. It’s good for you.

Skype

This is obvious. Don’t cut yourself off – remind yourself that it’s ok to want to be somewhere else, a little bit. Watch your family chat to you whilst wearing pink moustaches and sombreros. Remember that anyone would feel sad at missing out on a Mexican-themed Christmas.

Get Out

This does not mean that you should take the fastest train back to your small, empty London flat and pull a Christmas cracker with yourself. Get outside. Get some air. Smell a dog, pet a flower. Loop the block and go and buy a toothbrush. Remember to go back.

Be Thankful

Someone wants you! You’re not in the Walkabout eating pallid chicken and pouring pints of Heineken over your own head. Christmas is about family, and someone else’s family wants you around. You’re doing good. 

Sigh.
Sigh.

That’s it, those are the tips. Deck the halls with boughs of empty Bulmer’s bottles and remember that somewhere in the world, someone is being eaten by a shark. ‘Tis the season to be grateful that you’re not being eaten by a shark. 

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