The Holiday Blues |

No one really talks about how lonely winter holidays can get when you’re away from family. The cold never helps, and the early sunsets always add an extra layer of gloominess to the holiday season. Add to that the struggle of being an international student, thousands of miles away from anything remotely like home, let alone family, and the blues just always hit intensely.

This will be my second consecutive year away from home and my first time spending the holidays on my own. I’m not quite sure how I will end up spending the time, but I am certain that I will be missing my family quite a bit and the loneliness will always linger regardless of how I spend it. 

The effect is also cultural to an extent, I think. Growing up Muslim in Dhaka, there aren’t any major religious festivities in the winter, so instead, winter represents my time with family to me. Winters would mean my sister and I are on our four week long winter break, away from studies and anything remotely “educational”. Our mother and our grandmother would fill the house up with thirty different kinds of winter rice cakes and delicacies, and our days would be filled with sleeping under the blankets, gorging on the sweet rice cakes, and reading our favourite books before the next school term began. Winters would mean our father would get to take his vacation days from his work, and we would go on our yearly tradition of taking a road trip to visit his ancestral house in Sylhet, a town four hours away from Dhaka. It would mean meeting older relatives my sister, and I hadn’t met in years, who had apparently met us when we were “very tiny” and “still in your mother’s arms”. 

Winter has always been the warmest season for me in terms of how it feels, and I am missing that warmth as I move into the holiday season this year. However, this year I am hopeful I can slowly break out of the blues. I am trying to involve myself in activities that feel just as warm as back home. Trying to replicate my grandma’s rice cake recipes, crocheting myself a bulky scarf, planning a holiday dinner with friends, and rereading my favourite titles are a few of the activities I hope to partake in this holiday season. Planning these activities was a huge mood booster for me because I enjoy planning for events, and it also means I have things to look forward to when I start feeling the blues.

I hope this holiday season treats you kindly, and I hope you get to enjoy the warmth the holidays bring. Happy holidays!

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