Going off to college is weird. For 18ish years, your life has pretty much looked the same. And then, in one day, you move off to the university of your choosing and life is different and weird.
But you know what else is weird [and I would submit is weirder than leaving for college]?
Going back home for the holidays.
You are changed. They are changed. Your room has changed. Your friendships have changed. And sometimes it feels like you have to squeeze and finagle back into a spot that used to be really comfortable.
I’m doing my own weird “go home for the holidays” this year, as I’ve been living in Edinburgh, Scotland working with Crossroads Church for the last six months. Though it’s been a while since Mom and Dad’s was my full time residence, it doesn’t mean it is going to be simple.
At the core of who you are, you are still you. What annoyed you before will annoy you again [with a vengeance, probably]. What you loved before will make you want to stay home forever- for example, a full fridge and clean folded clothes. [Can I get an amen?]
So let’s all circle our chairs up and have a chat about how to do this thing well.
#1. Be patient
Listen, I know you’ve changed. I know you feel like a different person than when you left. And truth be known, you are in a lot of ways. And while you’ve called Mom anytime you got sick or talked with Dad about the football scores, it doesn’t mean they know all that you’ve been through. They may ask questions like, “What’s that boyfriend’s name again?” when y’all broke up in October or “When is your calculus final?” when you’ve been taking statistics. It’s okay when that happens. It really is. [I still have people make Irish jokes all the time when I have been living on a COMPLETELY different island for half of a year.] Just be patient.
#2. Be kind.
Your siblings missed you. You may not know it or feel it, but it is true. They missed you. So be nice to them. Don’t jump right back into being the angsty teen in your home. Be cool. Treat them the way you treat your hallmates or roommates at school. And try to watch the Thanksgiving Parade with them without making derogatory remarks about the cartoon character they love. [Not to mention, you’ll get to see Ingrid Michaelson perform, so you win too.]
#3. Obey the rules.
A curfew? Are you kidding me? I know. It’s hard. But you are only there for a few nights for Thanksgiving. Breathe deep, calm down, and come home on time. If it makes you insane, have a talk with Momsie and Popsie before Christmas break. [A good report card will help with that conversation, I’m just sayin’.]
#4. Be fun.
You have the choice. I know you do. You can be frowny and sit on facebook all holiday break long. Or you can play Wii with your Dad and do a puzzle with your Mom and play outside with your siblings. Be fun. When you leave to go back to school, you want them to miss you, not celebrate your exit.
What have been the highlights of the first part of this semester? What has been hard? What have you learned about life, God, friendships? Talk about this stuff. Don’t be the strong silent college kid that alienates yourself from your family. Jump right back in and tell your people about your life.
#6. Be thankful.
Let your actions say what you feel on the inside- grateful for a loving God, a family, a roof over your head. Say thanks all week long. It will go farther than you know.
Seven is my favorite number, so I’m going to let you create #7. What else do we need to remember when going home for a holiday break?
**We’ll pick one commenter to win a free copy of Annie’s book, From Head to Foot! **
The winner will be announced on Wednesday! FUN!
Annie Downs is a freelance writer in Nashville, Tennessee and she is currently flying back there from Edinburgh, Scotland. (Seriously! Today!) It has been an HONOR to correspond with her via email. Her heart beats strong for Jesus, college-age ministry and the twenty-somethings out there. (I am pulling for her to come to Knoxville and lead a weekend retreat with CRU!) Like her on facebook and learn more about her time in Scotland (and the rest of life) on her blog (one of my favs). Thank you, Annie! xoxo
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