Raleigh Family Photographer | What I Learned in December

What I Learned in December + Christmas Traditions

Raleigh Family Photographer

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What I Learned in December + Our Christmas Traditions 

I am one of those bucket list Mamas..and Christmas, wow, it’s just my favorite and so much fun, so I really like to come up with a list of traditions that I really want to stick to. And some things we don’t do every year, like the Polar Express , but I’m glad when we do get to do them. Of course, my youngest (see picture above) was born on Christmas day, so that makes all the plans a little bit different. This year we gave him a birthday party in June and that took a lot of the stress off. He’s still really confused about when his actual birthday is, but is happy to celebrate anyway. Fall is absolutely my busiest time of year and so it’s a lot to work around to try to squeeze everything in, but these are a few traditions – some new, some old for this year.

*Going to see Santa (see photos below) The boys always love bringing their lists (and I love photographing and saving their lists so much!) Owen had me set up the “spy cam” because of course, his friends are telling him there is no Santa. (you can download the Santa Spycam 3 app!) He was like, oh yes, there is, my mom has videos on her phone, ha.

*Polar Express. We haven’t done this every year – we’ve been to Bryson city a few times, and it’s a long way. (It’s just so magical though!) This year Harrison listened to the Polar Express book on tape EVERY single day, sometimes twice a day, so I knew we had to go. We tried out the NC Transportation museum in Spencer and their Polar Express was great. They are both so different and I loved different things about each one.

*I am a huge history buff – I just love it so much. We had just taken the boys to Williamsburg over fall break, and I had totally forgotten all about Old Salem with all the business of sessions, editing, and just life. My dad grew up in Ardmore, right at Old Salem, and even had a paper route where he had to go through the graveyard early in the morning. (Spooky Spooky) My grandmother loved going to the Candle tea and the lovefeast, and I grew up going to Old Salem. And of course, every year we eat the cookies + the sugarcake. On December 1st, we took the boys to the candle tea and then we did the Lantern Tour. Let me tell you, it was awesome! I definitely want to do the lantern tour next year! Such a special event by Old Salem, and the kids loved it.

*Make a Gingerbread house. This year Owen had a bunch of his buddies over and we all laughed as they all fell apart, and we’d put them back together.

*Make salt dough ornaments. The kids had so much fun painting these, but Harrison was so confused as to why we were hanging the “cookies” on the tree and not eating them.

*Jesse Tree. We read our advent reading every morning over breakfast. Love that book so much and the Jesse Tree (Kids also had a fun Star Wars lego advent calendar to work on while they listened)

*Christmas cookies. I have really been into cooking making lately. When the chaos of fall finally ended, all I wanted to do was bake with my boys. (And they loved it, too!) My favorite cookie cutters are the stamped cookies – they look great even without any icing. (I love these and these) I don’t ever want to be a professional baker, but I really enjoy baking with my kiddos. And I love her blog for cooking making tips.

*Angus Barn at Christmas. We’ve probably done this three times total, but we received a gift card this year, and I was over the moon to be able to take the boys. They absolutely loved it..seeing the train was Harrison’s favorite part.

*Piper’s Lights. Really love driving through this lights display. You can also stop and see Santa, go in a candy store, or ride the train.

*Cousins birthday day. One of my nieces was born Dec 23rd so we get together to celebrate her birthday and Harrison’s birthday. This year we went to Build a Bear (my boys made Super Mario bears) and then to see The Star.

*Tanglewood. We usually drive through Tanglewood on our way back from Hickory, but our Hickory trip was so short this year, we weren’t able to make it happen. But, if you are in NC, this is such a great lights display.

*Christmas Eve Shepherd’s Meal. If you’ve been following along with me this year, I’ve been reading and loving Sally Clarkson book so much. (I also highly recommend the workbook,too) It’s so encouraging, and I will definitely reread both this year. On Christmas Eve, we ate in the dark by candlelight like the Shepherds would have eaten. It was so adorable, and the boys just loved it!

*Christmas Eve service at church. This year Christmas was on a Sunday so we went in the morning.

*We always eat Krispy Kreme doughnuts, drink hot chocolate, and watch Elfon Christmas Eve before we go to bed. (and wrap presents all night!)

*Christmas morning brunch. Michael makes delicious food for all of us. He’s the better cook, and I’m more like Mrs. Doubtfire burning myself on the stove.

Just typing all of this out makes me tired + realize we really soaked in the season amidst all of the other things going on. Our kiddos got sick right after Christmas so we spent a lot of time just resting, not going from place to place and it was good. I will admit I was sad to send Owen back to school today.

A few other things I learned in December…

*AR workshop is a blast. A friend invited me to try out Viceroy in Durham (so yummy) and then we went to the AR workshop in Durham. We were there from about 7pm until 11 pm so I might would do the 10 am class next time, ha! It was so worth it though, and so much fun! You can see my artwork on my instagram. I’d really like to go back and do one of the centerpiece boxes or make one with our wedding vows on it. Next year, I’d really love to go to one of their ornament making classes, super fun! I am also one to stay at home in my pajamas so it was super fun when a friend asked me to go out and do something!

*Assigned seating movie theaters are the best for type A people like me. So I had not been to the movies in a while, and all of a sudden, its Christmas holiday season and there are a million movies out, so we actually went to two. (Ferdinand and the Star. No, I have not seen Star Wars yet, but I so want to!) I did not realize that most of the movie theaters now in Raleigh are assigned seats…I only knew a few were but they weren’t close by. BFF forever and ever. I’m one of those type A’s that wants to get there an hour early so I can get my seat, you know what I’m saying. Well now that I only have to get there a few minutes before the movie starts, I am happy, happy. We went to Ferdinand with a bunch of Owen’s friends..by the time it was all said and done, we had a few rows in the movie theater. The kids sat together + the Mamas sat together.

*When you think you’ve returned all the library books possible, think again. Seriously, we returned 30 books, and I was like, oh good, let’s check some out. And then the librarian tells you that you have 26 more at home. How is this even possible? We love the library so so much that with the overwhelmingness of the holidays, we didn’t even realize how many we had out. And we have a special library book, bookcase, but of course several (ahem, 26) had wondered around the house. (on their own, of course) I’m so thankful for the library, and all the fines paid will never equal all the money I’ve saved. Owen was reading 60.00 or more worth of books a day during the summer, so I mean, WE LOVE YOU Northeast Regional:)Raise your hand if you’ve ever paid a library fine…..

*I finally finished Lost. So I have to have something entertaining to watch when spending hours at the computer in the fall, so I noticed Lost was on netflix and I decided to try it out. In the beginning, it was really interesting, ok, they are lost on an island. Will they ever get home? So I was hooked. Then, it tuned into sci fi or something completely different, and I was like eh, I don’t want to watch this. About that time, a little box pops up from netflix saying I only have until Jan 4th to finish the series. It was like a challenge then. And whew, I finished it, but man, the sci fi at the end….

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Rebecca Keller is a Family and Maternity Photographer in Raleigh, North Carolina. Because we chat alot about our personal lives on the blog, we may receive commissions from affiliate links in articles.