How to have the best Christmas vacation while in college

Finals have ended. Fall semester is over and you’re home for the holidays. You also just got back from Thanksgiving break and just saw all of your family, but this holiday is different — as a college student, you have anywhere from three to six weeks off. What can you expect?

This was my second year coming home for the holidays, and somehow I thought I knew what I could expect from seeing my family — I was wrong.

At the beginning of this break, I was asked all the basic questions. How was your semester? Do you have a boyfriend yet? What do you want to do with that degree? These are all to be expected. I also got asked by high school friends to grab some lunch, but something just felt off about this year. 

I have been living with and near my best friends for four months now, and I am not sure what to do about the fact that my childhood home is starting to feel less and less like home as time goes on. All the while, the family I have created at school is starting to feel more and more like my real family. 

As this feeling continued throughout my break, I only began to miss my school family more and more, and my mom grew slightly more irritable that I was unwilling to do anything with my family. This led me to create a list of things that we need to remember as college students during long breaks. 

During my search for advice, I stumbled upon many articles that warned college parents what to expect when their children came home. These articles mentioned things like: they will sleep a lot, want to see their friends and new boundaries will need to be set. 

What I had a harder time finding was how college students are supposed to cope with missing our “new home,” feeling like a guest in our own house and creating new rules with our parents. 

There are three things in particular that have made this time at home enjoyable. First, make time for your parents. While it can be tempting to spend most of the break catching up with old friends or holed up in your room binge watching a Netflix show, parents have been waiting all semester just to spend these weeks with you. Whether they want to watch a family movie, or just talk, the least we can do for them is to spend a few nights giving them our attention. 


Another serious lesson I had to learn was how to live under someone else’s roof again. While we are away at college, we go through a lot. We gain a new title and lesson in independence almost every day in college. We tend to come home with a newfound understanding of adulthood that our parents did not watch us go through. That does not mean we get to disrespect them or think we know better. 

Esther Laurie writes that students need to make sure to have a conversation regarding things like curfew and other house rules to ease the tensions that can come up when at home. The best thing you can do for your parents is to communicate how you have grown up while you have been away and why that means you should be able to do as you wish now that you are an adult. 

Ultimately, among my friends, I have found that most parents come around. It is on us as children to realize that they said goodbye to their child, and each time we come home they see a more adult version of us than they were expecting. 

The final thing I learned from being home this Christmas is that there is a season for every feeling, literally. Coming home for Christmas and trying to catch up with old friends I have nothing in common with anymore, talking to parents who are sad I have grown up, and missing my friends at home has created a weirdly lonely and bored feeling. That’s fine. 

It can be hard to realize you are in this “now but not yet” transition into adulthood where you don’t quite fit in anywhere. Unfortunately this realization tends to come when you are at your house but somehow not “home.” It’s okay to feel this awkward tension, but remember not to fret. 

Each season will pass, and Christmas should be a time to remember what we do have and what we are thankful for. Even if this break brings about mixed feelings or tensions, remember the reason for the season. None of these feelings are permanent. 

The best college Christmas will occur when we remember that Jesus is the reason for the season, and forget all the extra stuff, except maybe the presents.