You guys! It’s the month before Christmas! This month is filled with tradition and fun and family (and stress, and shopping and work….but mostly fun!)!!! Whether Thanksgiving falls early or late in November, Christmas kicks off the following morning with the arrival of our Elf on the Shelf (See some old pictures here). I’ll admit, I’ve been terrible at taking photos of Murray this year, but I do have a few!

Owl-Head Elf – he was tricky for the kids to find on this day!

On December first Murray always brings some kind of Advent calendar for the kids, this year, basic chocolate ones!

This year, for the first time, our Elf doesn’t have to be placed up high. The kids all know not to touch him by now! So I was super excited to use this pose for him – the kids were not. There were tears, constant worry – fear our elf would never get free. It was a disaster!

All was set right the following morning with Murray put the Army men in their place.

After the Elf arrives, the next step in our holiday fun is picking out and decorating a Christmas Tree! Having my living room glowing in the magical twinkle lights makes me so happy! I love the smell of fresh pine – and I know it’s pushing it to have a live tree inside for over a month, but it’s worth picking up pine needles until Easter to do so!

Everyone helps decorate. Each year, under the tree on Christmas morning, we’ll each find a new ornament that is representative of something from the past year – it’s so fun to look back and remember what milestone was reached or what favorite things were at various points in time. It’s one of my favorite traditions.

We even have a handful of my husband and my childhood ornaments on the tree, like the little raccoon under Mike’s arm near the top. That guy has been on Mike’s tree as long as he can remember!

We also always get a family picture taken on Thanksgiving, this is what I use for our holiday cards (this way, the photos are always about a year a part so friends and family far away can truly see how much the kids have changed in a year). My amazing brother in law always brings his camera (he is a nature photographer, not a portrait one) and gets a great shot (or, multiple shots where head swapping is a possibility)!

There are still plenty of traditions left – we still have cookies to bake, Santa to visit, donations to make, gifts to buy, gifts to wrap and family and friends to celebrate with – but December is a magical month for my family. I’d love to hear about your holiday traditions (Christmas, or otherwise).