By Kali Kushner | Culture Editor

For many people, the holiday season is considered a time for families to come together and celebrate amongst each other, whether that involves the exchanging of gifts or communal feasts with extended relatives. Although the holidays can often be a time of love and elation, for those who have strenuous or non-existent relationships with their relatives, it can be a time of anxiety and frustration. As someone who deals with this very issue, I know how difficult it can be to experience the emotional distress that comes with Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah, Ramadan, Kwanzaa, or any other annual celebration during the winter season, so I hope to provide some helpful suggestions for getting through the Holidays.

Friendsgiving – Spending Thanksgiving with your friends can be a great way to avoid the stress of familial gatherings while still enjoying the communal celebration of the holiday. Whether you’re on or off campus, you can easily host a Thanksgiving-themed potluck for your friends and settle down to watch a movie or play some board games while you digest.

Sodexo Thanksgiving – Each year, Sodexo hosts a wonderful Thanksgiving dinner in the Soda Center, which brings a great sense of community amongst students and staff as we all hunker down to eat some traditional Thanksgiving treats. Although many students attend with their friends, the open seating allows for the opportunity to make new friends if you end up attending alone.

Soup kitchen or food bank – Of course, another great alternative is community service, as the holidays can be especially difficult for victims of food insecurity or other disadvantages. There are several food banks and soup kitchens nearby, including the Food Bank of Contra Costa and Solano County or the Monument Crisis Center, both of which are located in Concord.

Road trip – For people who need to get away, a short road trip up North is a fun way to enjoy the wonders of the season. While Lake Tahoe is a favorite amongst Californians, it’s quite busy during the season, so I recommend visiting some of the towns south of Tahoe. My personal favorite is Nevada City, which is shockingly not located in Nevada. Less than three hours from campus, this little town is a Christmas dream, as it’s close to the snow and every shop is decorated for the season.

How ever you end up spending your holidays, keep in mind that there are alternatives available if you need them, and you are not obligated to force yourself into the discomfort of family gatherings. Stay safe, bundle up, and have a lovely break!

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