the best holiday season i had up to age 21 was when my family went out of the state for Christmas and i spent my college break with a bunch of other students in inner city Chicago giving away food packages and gifts to needy families and throwing parties for underprivileged kids. it was a good combination - to be out of my normal setting - not being with family - and doing something worthwhile for someone else. at that time i didn't even remember the CSA - just knew that "home for the holidays" was NOT a good thing. i think those principles still apply - for me anyway.
We are often troubled, but not crushed;
sometimes in doubt, but never in despair;
there are many enemies, but we are never without a friend;
and though badly hurt at times, we are not destroyed.
- Paul, II Cor 4:8-9