Wednesday, December 2, 2009


An 8-foot balsam pine is twinkling in the space between our dining room and family room. The short banister is wrapped in great swags of evergreen, twined with crimson cords and sprinkled with snowflakes that leave glitter on my shoulders when I pass. I've resurrected the Christmas CDs and downloaded them to our iPod--even now Third Day serenades me with O Come All Ye Faithful. I've already made cookies (Peanut Blossoms, the best ever), sought out my favorite toffee recipe, and ordered the requisite Christmas cards. They're beautiful, by the way. Everyone is smiling just so...

Christmas is in full swing at the Baart house. And I love Christmas. So why am I feeling so... blah?

I could blame it on the fact that right now I'm facing uncertainty in both my professional and personal life. That's enough to throw someone off-game, right? Or I could lament the sad truth that Aaron and I have been busy with a capital B, something you know I've been struggling with (and working on) for some time now. Maybe it's that as the holiday season approaches, we are apart from family and friends in British Columbia... Any way you cut it, Christmas does have a certain bittersweet edge to it, doesn't it?

Whether it's warranted or not, I can't help feeling like a bit of a Scrooge. It's not that I didn't relish picking out and decorating our tree with my sons. And I'd be lying if I said I didn't close my eyes every time I bite into one of those perfectly Decemberish peanutbuttery cookies... Bliss. Yet even with these quiet sparks of cheer, I know that this season I more closely resemble a bah-humbug recluse than Christmas Barbie with a Santa apron and a maxed-out credit card.

Guess what? I'm okay with that. Go ahead and call me Scrooge. Remember the story? He faced himself, dug deep and learned things about himself and the world that most people don't have the courage to confront. It was a journey, but he was a changed man after he walked that arduous path.

I feel like I've been doing a lot of waiting this year. How fitting that as we journey through Advent, I'm waiting yet again. Waiting for news. Waiting for a positive report. Waiting for the days to pass... Waiting. Expecting. Hoping. Worrying. Praying.

Believe it or not, it's a good place to be. A hard place to be, for sure. But I'm hoping that a journey of refinement is just what I need. I'm already looking forward to Christmas Day... In a quiet, reflective sort of way.

How about you? Do you ooze candy canes and tinsel from your pores? Or are you a quiet Christmas observer? How is the holiday season hitting you this year?


  1. I love to decorate the house and set up the tree. My daughter shares my love to sit in the dark and just watch the tree while listening to Christmas music. Unfortunately, both of our families live away so Christmas brings time with family; however, it involves 40+ hours in the car driving to and from both sets and praying the weather cooperates. Once we arrive at our destination our time is spent burning the candle at both ends, trying to catch up with as many family and friends as possible only to have to say goodbye again until next year. I give thanks for things like e-mail and Facebook and the ability it gives us to stay connected. I would have been a very unhappy "Little House on the Praire" woman.

  2. I am so behind this year with Christmas! We haven't even extracted our decorations from their neatly labeled rubbermaid container! I felt panicked back in September when I saw Christmas wrapping paper and ornaments in Costco. I feel we live in such a materialistic world and that we have lost the true meaning of's all about buy, buy, buy, MORE BIGGER BETTER...for ourselves! This year my family is taking a much different approach to celebrate the true meaning of Christmas (hoping to share Christ's love to better others and the world we live in versus bettering our situation, which is already quite blessed)by spending a good chunk of our "Christmas gift money" on buying families in need a pig, some chickens and a cow for food and monetary income. Life is a miracle... my husband and I have learned through some very trying times that right now we have ALL we want and need so let's bless someone else with our "plenty".

  3. Every year I get really excited around Christmas time because I love the decorations, the sweaters pulled down over my hands, the comfy winter boots, the sweats, the hoodies, the fire burning, the hot cocoa, the cheery music, giving and receiving, the waking up in the middle of the night in anticipation of Christmas day...then I wake up Christmas morning and my parents roll out of bed, pour their coffee, and sit around the tree with me and try (or don't try) to be cheerful about opening presents. Sometimes, and I won't say who, someone can be brutally ungrateful for their present, and that just ruins it for me. I don't really start to enjoy my day until my parents and I go over to my Nana and Poppop's where my aunt, uncle, and cousins also congregate with us to eat food and open even more presents. My cousins are lucky, they're still little and my aunt and uncle still get into playing the Santa card. My parents just aren't that into it, and it really stinks because I love Christmas and I wish they'd love it, too. Maybe that sounds bratty? Anyway, the point is, I know how you feel. At the end of the day, every year since I was in high school, the Christmas day I've dreamed up in my head seems overrated compared to the Christmas I really spend. I know, I know, that does sound bratty and whiny. And I love my family, and I can maybe understand why they don't feel Christmas is such a big deal. But from my perspective it is, and I wish I had someone to spend Christmas with for even just an hour who feels the same way I do about the holiday.

  4. Carmen, I can totally relate to the holiday hubbub when you don't live near family... The last time we went to BC we abandoned the "see everyone" maxim. It was AWESOME--relaxing and invigorating instead of draining. It's hard to pick and choose, but sometimes it's the only thing that will keep you sane!

    B, we're also ditching the bigger-better. My kids have more toys than they know what to do with. It's actually rather sickening. This year they're going to get a few small things (pajamas, books, etc.) and then our family is taking a mini-vacation to a nearby indoor waterpark. Just two nights of swimming until they're raisins and jumping on hotel beds. I think the experience will be worth much more than another plastic thingy. Also, every year we let the boys each pick a name off of our local Angel Tree. Then we all go shopping for the presents and wrap them together. It means a lot to them.

    Lauren, correct me if I'm wrong, but I think we're a lot alike... Both eternal optimists. At least, that's what I'm picking up as I get to know you! It's hard when people don't catch the happy vibes we're constantly putting out--and especially frustrating around Christmas. Someone very close to me struggles with depression and sometimes it's hard for me to understand why they can't just "get over it." I've learned to adjust my expectations... Anyway, I hope you find someone this Christmas that relishes the season like you do. Maybe before you go home you need to grab a few friends and have a Christmas night out. One of my favorite things to do is wander the mall and take in all the music, bustle, and lights. I don't have to buy a thing, I just walk... ;)

  5. That sounds like a great idea! :)

  6. Oh, and yes, we're a lot alike. My family tends to always see the negative side of things and, I don't know if it's the rebel in me that makes me the optimistic, or if that's just God. It could be both. Haha. I just get disheartened when someone displays lack of trust in God, or just completely disregards him as a controlling factor, because he is. And when I say disheartened, I don't mean I lose faith, it just makes me sad that my family thinks like that.

  7. I am a deep lover of Christmas as it reminds me of His love...but I am a hater of all that is commercial about the season. I was so upset to hear Christmas music playing the week after Halloween...and I have lost all love for the local Christian music station that is playing non-stop jingles thru to Christmas day. Scrooge, I am, when it comes to that stuff as everything screams "Come. Spend your money" when we just don't have it to give...

    BBBBUUUUTTTT....I can't help but love this season. I can't help but delight in the chill that scurries thru the air, the delight of surprise that grows in my children's eyes, the desire to do and give when you normally might pass it by, the fragrance of pine needles and the hunger for all that is cookies. I love the memories and the plans for the future...and I can't help but LOVE Christmas. :)

  8. I'm a quiet observer. Until a few years ago I wasn't very gung-ho about it, other than my traditions. I'm not a huge fan of Christmas movies or even the music. Red, green, and cold makes my cringe. I think as a kid, I just wanted the waiting to be over. So if I pretended Christmas wasn't so close, it wasn't as hard to wait. But things have changed these past few years. I'm beginning to savor it and I actually downloaded Christmas music last year. Now I just have to listen to it!

  9. Bina, I love Christmas, too. Really, I do. Sometimes I think the tension I feel around this holiday is a good thing--it's a reminder not to buy wholesale into the American holiday package.

    Kristen, well said! "Red, green, and cold makes me cringe..." You made me laugh. :)