“Home for the Holidays” is one of the best Christmas songs ever recorded. I don’t know of many other lyrics that bring such a warm and cozy feeling straight to the heart—unless, of course, you’re not going home for the holidays. Ever been there?

It was the winter of 1998. I was a fairly new transplant to Nashville from Phoenix, Arizona—moving to Tennessee for my new job. Single. Alone. Didn’t know a soul, other than my new co-workers.

But, much to my surprise, God brought Don—a really sweet, good-looking guy—into my life shortly after I moved there. We hit it off immediately, and started dating soon afterwards. Every weekend was a new adventure as Don acquainted me with the whole Nashville scene. As the year progressed, I just knew I was in for a romantic holiday with my new guy!

But then Don told me his job was sending him to Japan for the holiday!! Seriously? Now, what was I going to do??

You may be in a similar predicament this Christmas season. The list of reasons could go on and on. You may be a college student too far from home to get there and back in time. Or newly divorced, wanting to escape from everyone who knew you as married. You may be a single, working adult—needing to work to keep things afloat. The situations may be different but the feelings are the same: lonely, gloomy, and ready to get to the other side of January 1st as soon as possible!

If this describes your condition right now, make the decision to turn toward HOPE for the Holidays:

H – Help others less fortunate. Christmastime, in most locations of the US, also brings cold weather. Shelters for the homeless are always in need of extra helping hands to serve meals or box up food and clothing items for those less fortunate.

O – Offer assistance with specific opportunities over the holiday. Take your pick at seasonal or volunteer openings around your community. You never know if a short-term project will bring new relationships, or a new job in your near future!

P – Participate in, or attend, some of the fun and inspiring Christmas performances in your community. You’re sure to find something to suit your fancy—Nutcracker Suite, How the Grinch Stole Christmas, or a simple church choir program. Not only will it give you something to do (most every night of the holiday season), the events are sure to lift your spirits and bring a smile to your face!

E – Explore! If you’re not stuck at your workplace over the holiday, and the weather permits—consider going on an exploration to a place you’ve not been to before. Go to a movie theatre on the other side of town. Check out some restaurants that you haven’t tried yet. Are you the outdoors type? Find a holiday hike or marathon in a city or state nearby! You might even make a new friend who is doing the same activities this year.

If you’re stuck at home for the holidays, don’t despair! Get out and involved with those in your community, and gain hope for the new year ahead.