Holidays on the Carolina coast look a bit different than most Hallmark movies.  A white Christmas?  Keep dreaming.  I guess I should never say never… it is 2020 after all. 

coastal christmas

It gets cold here for sure, usually not ‘snow cold’, but we often enjoy warm days spent on the water and cool nights around the fire pit.  We’ll trade snow for sand any day!  Coastal living in the “off-season” comes with it’s own set of well-loved traditions to be shared and cherished.


The kick-off to the holiday season in our household is always our daughter’s birthday on November 22nd.  The five eventful weeks that follow are a whirlwind of eating, decorating, holiday parties, travelling, and gathering with friends and family as we relive the joy of old traditions and find joy in making new ones.  

Some will forever crave the hustle, but this year will undoubtedly be much different.  Our feasts will be smaller and our dining table won’t be full, and that’s okay for now.  

Love the ones you’re with… and love the ones you’re without enough to be apart, even at the holidays.

It’s time to look beyond the inconveniences of 2020, control what we can, and move past what we can’t.  Spending time with family and creating intentional moments can make ‘different’ feel special.  This year has forced us to set aside expectations and embrace a simpler season.


Want to decorate for Christmas early this year?  No judgement here… if it puts you in a festive mood, go for it!  Maybe not Halloween early, but having Thanksgiving dinner under the glow of Christmas tree lights is totally acceptable.

holiday lights

The best gifts are the ones you can’t buy… unwrap the Carolina Coast

Cooler temps and fading daylight doesn’t mean we’re totally housebound.  Decembers are filled with boating, fishing, kayaking, biking, hunting and spending quality time with the few in our ‘bubble’….mostly on porches or fireside, so I can’t complain.  

Food is also front and center… when is it not with our crew?  This time of year, we swap crab and shrimp for trout, oysters, deer and ducks.  Last week we had a deer versus duck taste test, made our favorite Trout Recipe, and had our first oyster roast of the season.

Endurance Seafood is the place to go for the freshest local catch and wild caught oysters by the bushel, and Neuse River Bait & Tackle has local farm raised oysters for $40 a bag… clean, fat and salty.

Endurance seafoodholiday oysters


So I’m well aware that many of these things have been changed and a few even all out cancelled this year, but past and future holiday seasons (hopefully) won’t resemble our present predicament.  Even if it’s not exactly the same, the beauty of the season and magic of Christmas surround us.

holiday parade

NEW BERN – Every December New Bern’s historic waterfront is transformed into a winter wonderland with wreaths on every lamp post, lights strung across the downtown streets and even SNOW! 

Christmas lights have an extra twinkle when they’re reflecting off the water, don’t ya think?

Walk the decorated streets of downtown, tour Tyron Palace adorned with old fashioned decorations, or get merry at the Mistletoe Market, Lighting of the Christmas tree, downtown Christmas parade or any one of the month long festivities during a Beary Merry Christmas.

ORIENTAL – An annual tradition in many waterfront towns on our coast is the Christmas flotilla where illuminated boats of all shapes and sizes join together in a waterway parade.  Oriental’s flotilla cruises into town the second weekend in September and kicks off the Spirit of Christmas.  

christmas flotilla

Stroll the luminary-lined village streets that light a path for all to enjoy the sites, tastes and sounds of the season.  And this year, town residents and businesses are getting extra festive with the ‘Light up Oriental’ decorating contest, a creative (and covid-friendly) way to keep the season merry and bright.

AP – we’ll really miss our neighborhood Oyster Roast this year, but I can’t post about the holidays without mentioning this annual tradition that is full of friends, food and cheer.  We certainly hope this event will return in 2021!  

holiday oyster roastholiday oysters


Beginnings and endings should both be celebrated, and our little town celebrates BIG!  Oriental rings out the old year and in the new with the Dragon Run.  A forty-foot Chinese dragon comes out of hibernation each New Year’s Eve just after dark and saunters through the streets of Oriental, flashing it’s fangs while locals, visitors, and children (of all ages) cheer him on banging pots and pans to ward away evil spirits. 

new years dragon run

Legend has it that the dragon was first sighted in the sixties and to touch the dragon means good luck for you in the coming year… we’re gonna need it!

We more than welcome a fleeting 2020.  But before we turn the page on this calendar year, we take time to reflect on how we’ve changed as individuals, as families, and as a community… hopefully for the better.

Cheers to making new traditions and purposeful resolutions, CHEERS TO 2021!

Arlington Place blog author Becca Lang. Story by Becca Lang

Hey there, I’m Becca. I live and work in Arlington Place with my husband Blair and kids Evie (12) and Keegan (10)... oh and our fur babies Gus (13) and Hank (3). We’re lucky to live in such a unique place and do our best to make the most of what our little slice of heaven has to offer.