Holiday blues- How I cope: My life in Uganda

And…here we go again-Another Thanksgiving away from family, friends and good home-cooked food. Wait a minute, come to think of it, this is my first time away from my son…on a holiday. It’s not just the fact of missing him but knowing that he is not around during times like this.

Why does it matter?

Thanksgiving, as I know it, is a time of family gathering, home-cooked meals, fellowship and the comfort of warm hugs and energy. Thanksgiving, as most people know it, may be similar to my experiences. Either way, it’s been a tradition for my family to commune on the last Thursday of each November for such a time as this. So, of course, it’s a sour and lonely feeling this year more than ever to be spending it…without them, and most importantly, without my son. 

Look,  I’m not trying to sound like a Debbie downer or anything of the sort but it’s my reality and your here reading this so why not share, right?

So, this is my 3rd year away from the States, my 3rd year away from family on Thanksgiving…and my 1st year away from my son. I didn’t realize the effect that all of this would have until BOOM! It hits me like a ton of bricks. I’m in Uganda and they are in the States. Hmmmmm…..

See in Uganda, and pretty much every other country besides the U.K., the locals don’t acknowledge Thanksgiving. Quite frankly, I don’t blame them because of the historical context, especially for black Americans, however, because it usually collaborates the ideal of being around family and food, which are my two favorite things, I’m down for the cause.

So what do you do to cure your holiday blues? What do you do when your lonely, missing family and can’t wait to taste home-cooked food?

Here are 6 suggestions on how I’ve coped in the past when dealing with holiday blues:

  1. COOK a great and memorable meal with friends or a significant other- Being in good company is always nice, especially when you’re away from family. Spend it well by having pot luck or host a dinner, for that matter. Preparing foods that remind you of home or even being adventurous by trying a new delicacy from the country you’re currently in is always an option.  My best advice is to steer clear of being alone. It will only make matters worse!
  2. PARTICIPATE in an expat or community related event -In Kampala, for example, there is a Thanksgiving dinner for those interested. Now, of course, the food won’t be like mamas but at least you can network with others. You can also try community service events or just get out and enjoy the city. Don’t sweat it too much. Treat it as a normal day. Try not to bring too much attention to the fact that you are away from family and dealing with the need to be comforted. Also, giving back to the community is rare these days. Try helping out someone in need or volunteering. Your good deed will help someone else and in turn, lift your spirits. (I know it sounds scripted but hey, this is a fact).
  3. CALL family -Ok. Let’s face it. Your thousands of miles away from the ones you love or at least share the same blood line with. Why not pick up the phone, send your love and make their day, too. I miss talking to family regularly but when I do, it always makes me feel better and I instantly feel connected with home. Either way, it’s not good to sit in isolation, disregarding the fact that you miss home. So, pick up the phone, connect with Skype, get your fingers to typing that message or….find some other way but make sure the connection happens. Life is too short to not communicate with the fam…blood line or not!
  4. BE patient and remember the purpose-Ok so you’re not locked up in a room without any breathing space. You are living free, you, my friend, are living your dream. So, keep that in the forefront when you start having feelings of sadness, loneliness-whatever. You are where you are for a reason. Thanksgiving and all the other special holidays that are normally celebrated in the States will come and go. Your reality is different now. Learning to adapt away from family, being patient with you by allowing those feelings to happen naturally! Just move forward in your purpose and plan without regret or fear. You’ll be fine!
  5. Remember  all of the things your thankful for- If I had to pen all the things I’m undeniably grateful for, the list would be too long to contain. Sometimes, we lose sight of what we are thankful for. It’s so sad that it takes one man made holiday to gently remind us. So, in the interim, while you’re going through your blues, remember those thankful moments and the opportunities you have now. Be thankful for how far you’ve come and where you’re still going. Be thankful for the happy moments, sad, exciting and everything else in between. Just use this time as a joyful moment and know that God is with you on this path.
  6. Join a church-When I was in the UAE, this is the one thing that truly saved me: Being around like-minded individuals who believed in God and being active in a small group and throughout the church community. You need a support system. Without it, life is tough. While I’m here in Uganda, I am steady trying to build more consistent relationships, especially with people in the church. It matters. Praise God!

Well, there you have it-My 6 theories on how I deal with the holiday blues….

Now, you may get along differently which is also worthy of a share. If you are willing, able and patient enough to do so, please share how you got through your holiday blues.

Just as a side note, I don’t think any of these said above mentioned theories can cure my heart ache for missing my son. Gosh! This is hard…being away….but I’ll make it through…somehow.



Until next time, be blessed and well-traveled.


Happy Thanksgiving to those who celebrate.




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