The Best Homesickness Cure When You Can’t Go Home for the Holidays
For years, I’ve been doing the same thing to make this time feel a little less lonely
During the holiday season’s peak travel days, Los Angeles’s 405 Freeway almost looks festive — the red and white lights of cars, stretching for miles, can be beautiful, if you’re not stuck inside the traffic yourself. It can also lead one to believe that every single person vacates the city for the holidays. But ever since I moved to LA from Philadelphia four years ago, I’ve stayed here, 2,392 miles from where I grew up, throughout the holiday season, stuck in place by work schedules and the prohibitive cost of airfare.
To me, those 2,392 miles are measured by time: I’m a six-hour flight plus a three-hour time change away from my immediate and extended family, my oldest friends, and my husband’s family and friends, too. My husband and I have each other during the holidays, of course, but Los Angeles — far from our other loved ones and weather even remotely considered wintery — can leave us feeling homesick.
According to Jessica Zucker, a clinical psychologist and writer based in Los Angeles, homesickness can be especially prevalent around this time of year. “Holidays, in and of themselves, highlight what we have and what we don’t have,” she says. “If people are feeling particularly close to loved ones that they can’t be with, it seems like it would inevitably evoke feelings of loneliness, sadness, longing, yearning, and maybe stir feelings of regret for having moved far away and not living close.”
Of course, the holiday season might also evoke difficult feelings for those returning home, she adds, as they may find themselves “wishing that they had a different home life to go home to.” So really, the holiday season, even with the cheer of the decorations and that one Mariah Carey song, can present emotional challenges for both those near and far from their families. Unfortunately — well, fortunately for me — I know the antidote for the pain of being far from one’s family: binge-watching.
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