When the holidays roll around again there are a surprising number of my friends who don’t have familial duties to attend to.  The reasons? They don’t live in the same country as their family, their loved ones are no longer alive or they simply don’t get along. But is one better than the other? Would you love to spend the holidays away from your family or would that be simply unthinkable? Or do you yearn to be part of a close-knit clan?

In today’s modern world where family is made up of many strands, spending the holidays with either friends or family can be a win either way. Take my life: I’m the youngest of eight children from a tight-knit family but I only spend the holidays with my family every other year.

The reason? Because my partner’s family is in Australia and it seems unfair for her her spend each holiday with my clan simply because hers is absent. So every other year, we spend the holidays with her alternative family – a group of similarly geographically stranded friends. We moan about eating turkey, eat too much chocolate and drink too much wine – the usual.

Having this balance during the holidays is not something I ever thought would happen to me but it’s one that we both love. It keeps things fresh and it means that both friends and family are super-pleased to see us every other year and no welcomes outstayed. What’s more, I’ve found it also means we can share and spread our traditions and create new ones, too.

For instance, after Christmas dinner with my family we open our presents, play quizzes and games and then have a family singalong. At our friend’s place we have no traditions but I have introduced a game or two after dinner, followed by the ever-popular cheese and port. Having no traditions is freeing, too. There’s no pressure to go to church (I’m not religious but my family is) and we even went out for a walk on Christmas day one year – unheard of back home!

In the end though, the key to having happy holidays is having people to share them with, be that friends or family. Sharing special times, good food & drink with great company is one of life’s treasures that should be guarded. Whoever you choose to spend this holiday season with, make sure you fill it with love, laughter and of course, no small amount of presents! Happy holidays to one and all.

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About The Author

Clare Lydon's picture

Clare Lydon is a writer, journalist and blogger based in London, UK. Her journalism career has seen her write across many genres including food, football, design, games & music. Now a fully fledged fiction writer too, Clare’s just completed her second novel and runs her own blog at 

When she’s not tapping at her keyboard, Clare can be found running along the banks of the Thames or watching an episode of the Gilmore Girls, an addiction she simply cannot shake. She’s also a keen cook and worships at the altar of Ina Garten even though the amount of butter she puts into every recipe is frankly obscene. She’d still love to be invited to Ina’s for dinner though.

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