The holidays are a stressful time for most families. Between shopping and visiting family, it is easy for the spirit of Christmas to get lost in the shuffle. It can be even more difficult when a loved one’s shift requires them to be away on the big day. This is hard for all members of the family because many of us dream of the perfect Christmas morning with everyone gathered by the tree to open presents. But, it can be possible to still have a great Christmas even when dad is away.

1. Plan to celebrate Christmas on a different day

It may not be exactly the same, but just celebrating on a different day when the whole family can be together can be the next best thing. It can be really easy to pull off with younger children who aren’t quite sure what day it is yet.

2. Invite someone who may also be away from their family

Often the most challenging part of being alone on Christmas is just that – being alone. Is there someone else who isn’t able to spend time with their family? Your family could invite a neighbor who may be looking for someone to spend Christmas with. You could also ask a coworker or friend to spend some time together.

3. Enjoy some of your traditions from afar

Traditions are an essential part of what makes Christmas special. Maybe there is a special meal or treat that you have every year. Maybe your family likes to go to the movies. Finding a way to still have those special items or activities on the big day can help bridge the distance with your family.

4. Find some time to stay connected on the big day

Technology can help stay connected even when we are out of town and working. Skype, phone calls, texts, and pictures can help us feel like we are not entirely missing out.

5. Reflect on what makes Christmas special for you and your family

For many of us, Christmas is a unique time of year not just because of our time-honored traditions and time spent with our families. Christmas reminds us of the importance of giving and sacrifice. Taking time to contemplate the true meaning of Christmas can help us feel the spirit of this time of year even when we are away from those we love.

6. Watch a favorite Christmas movie

Christmas isn’t complete without enjoying a favorite Christmas movie, whether it be Christmas Vacation, A Christmas Story, Elf, or another classic.

7. Read a Christmas story together

Whether near or far, you can almost feel you’re in the same room when reading a story together over the phone or Skype. This could be Polar Express, the Bible Christmas story, or any holiday favorite. Best of all, this experience is a great way to stay connected whether it’s Christmas day or a random Wednesday.

Christmas can be hard when we are not able to spend it with our families because of our work schedule or other conflicts. However, with a little bit of effort, you can find ways to connect with your family and experience the spirit of Christmas.


Jesse P. Higgins, MS, LMFT, CFLE is a licensed marriage and family therapist. He works with adolescents, adults, couples, and families in the Uintah Basin. He specializes in helping you reach any individual, parenting, or relationship goal. 

Christina Higgins, MS, is an experienced parenting coach and postpartum doula. She works with parents of children birth through adolescence in the Uintah Basin.

Higgins Family Center provides a variety of services including individual, couple, family, and distance services. We also offer individualized parent coaching, parenting classes, supervised visitation, and postpartum doula services. Would you like to meet with us? Call or text 435-828-3255.