I Heart Faces asked me to write about celebrating and photographing the holidays when living in a warm climate locale. Is it possible to capture the “spirit of the holidays” in photos without the winter wonderland of snowy landscape magic?
The simple answer is: Yes, of course, it’s possible. But, it does look different. After our first couple Christmases here, we had to give up the yummy-smelling fresh-cut Christmas tree (it’s simply too warm to keep it alive more than a week) and buy an artificial one.
The good news is: the fake tree matches our fake boughs on the mantle!
And it blends right in with our green backyard ‘scape…
And the other good news is that at night, photos of tree sparkle look magical, whether the tree is real or not.
Every year we buy that gingerbread house kit at Costco. And inevitably we decorate that house with all manner of icing “snow”. Please notice, however, that the house does still reflect our SoCal sensibility: see how G-Boy is wearing shorts?!!!
We also annually brew a thermos of hot chocolate & coffee (or get lazy and swing thru Starbucks) and drive through the fancy-Christmas-light neighborhoods. Here at home, we use a few lights outside, but even that looks different than your traditional winter wonderland:
Our snowmen look a little different, too. Made out of plastic or glass, not snow, they instead adorn our window sills or hang from our trees.
Sometimes they’re even made out of sand!
Many traditions exist wholely outside the climate; like singing Christmas carols at church, curling up with good books, making/smelling/devouring cookies, watching The Nativity Story movie, and scrambling to finish my annual family photo album. Some years (ok, rarely), I cook a fancy Christmas dinner; but, more often than not, we BBQ and then head to the beach, because sunsets in SoCal in November and December are awe-inspiring, stunning, and filled with glory. Which, after all, perfectly complements the spirit of Christmas.
Do we ever wish for a freak snowstorm in SoCal on Christmas morning? You betcha. But between now and never when that happens, we’ll just keep reveling in the season as we do now. And we’ll capture it all in photos.
Susan Keller is an Orange County Baby, Child & Family Photographer who loves coffee, good books, big landscapes, her dudes, and using ellipses instead of words… You can find her on Facebook and blogging at Short on Words.