Tales of Christmas Woe // wisdom for the new year

‘Twas the night before Christmas,

And due to a delay,

Every Baran was wailing—

Even the INTJ.


And that is as far as my poetic abilities extend.

But no, it’s true. Most people think of Christmas Eve as a night of laughter and joy and glad tidings spread throughout the holly-decked halls. My Christmas Eve was a little less… romanticized. (Which shouldn’t seem too unusual. Seriously, who bases their expectations of Christmas off of sappy songs playing in Walmart? Not ME, I can tell you that much.)

The cause of my distress was simple: Everything that could go wrong had.

My family was planning on traveling back to Maryland to spend a few days with our family. I hadn’t seen any of them – my grandparents, my older brother, my aunts and uncles – since we moved out of state, and though I’m not one for crowds, noisiness, or family gatherings (where crowds and noisiness transfuse their evils into one ultimate social villain), the prospect of spending time with them again was enough to outdo all the silly Christmas songs.

So yes, this little social hermit was actually looking forward to crowds and noisiness. Sue me.

And that, folks, is when it happened: The day before we left, GUESS WHAT DECIDED TO GO ON THE FRITZ??

Our furnace.

You know I live in Michigan, right?

It’s cold up here.

There was no possible way we could go anywhere for an extended period of time and leave our pipes to freeze in a heatless house. That just wasn’t an option. Nor was there any chance of getting the furnace repaired in time – no handyman was going to leave his warm abode on Christmas Eve to come fix our problem.

There went the idea of visiting grandparents over Christmas.

“But it’s okay,” said my sister. (Who isn’t generally the optimist, but must have been having a particularly good day, despite the circumstances.) “We can still have fun here!”

I wasn’t convinced.

It didn’t help that I’d recently caught a nasty cold, and could hardly talk, let alone feel enthusiastic about a dismal, dark holiday spent in the frozen wastelands of unfamiliar territory. And if those two things weren’t bad enough, I ended up burning my hand that day – my dominant hand I use to do everything.

Pain and swelling ensued.

“Aw, stop whining,” said Anna, who hasn’t a drop of sympathy in her entire cold-hearted soul. “We’re making overnight cinnamon rolls, and if that isn’t enough to cheer someone up, they’re clearly dead. Tomorrow will be amazing.”

Something of key importance that must be noted here is that in Anna’s vocabulary, ‘we’ equals ‘Sarah’.

Sarah is making overnight cinnamon rolls.

She failed to mention that they were of the nasty, gluten-free variety. Before I knew it, I’d been wrangled into mixing together some strange, pasty slop made out of bean flour.

I am convinced that flour made from beans is the direct work of the Devil.

Listen, people: I’m a fairly decent baker. I’ve tried my hand at meringue pies and citrus layer cakes. I’ve made whoopee-pie cookies and raspberry cheesecake. I’ve baked quite an assortment of difficult things, and they all turned out fine. But nothing in my baking existence had prepared me for bean flour. After wrestling with that gunk for an hour, my cinnamon rolls looked more like depressed snails than edible pastries.



That’s just embarrassing.

“THIS IS THE GREATEST THING EVER,” crowed my dear sister, who is The Actual Worst. “I’m generally the one who has these epic flops! It’s ten times funnier when YOU, the elegant one, make horrendous mistakes.”

I wasn’t feeling the humor.

Shall we list all the things that were contributing to my bleak existence?

  1. I had a headache the size of Mount Rushmore.
  2. The dam meant to keep snot inside my head was clearly in need of maintenance.
  3. My voice sounded like Katniss after Peeta strangled her.
  4. My favorite hand was incapacitated and I could no longer write, type, or draw – the three things I usually go to as boons in my troubled times.
  6. And bean flour didn’t like me.

An honorable mention in this bullet-pointed record of woe is that Anna, who is NEVER optimistic, was feeling a random and rare burst of insufferable cheerfulness.

I was not.

A slight meltdown may or may not have ensued.

In my defense, her happiness was provoking me.

And so the night passed, and it was awful. The next day – Christmas Day – dawned bright and brown (White Christmas, you lied to me), but…

Lo and behold, my sister had made a new batch of cinnamon rolls while I was still sleeping.


They tasted even better than they look.

So we hunkered down in our little farmhouse, ate cinnamon rolls, and watched It’s a Wonderful Life. Dad cracked jokes that weren’t funny. Mom spewed her usual array of mangled quotes and quips. Anna attempted one of my gluten free cinnamon rolls and was kind enough to refrain from telling me what they tasted like.

This happened.


(Don’t ask.)

And somehow, against all odds, it was a surprisingly successful day.

Then, several days later, our furnace was functioning enough to allow us a quick trip back to Maryland to FINALLY visit our extended family, catch up with grandparents and brother, and drop Anna off at the airport so she could embark on a two-week mission trip to Peru. My list of woes shrank considerably during that time period, even if my hand was still burnt and voice half-strangled by a cold.

Now, as I’ve replayed that week over again in my mind, I’ve realized something – my “misfortunes” weren’t so very bad after all. I also happen to be a terrible hypocrite:

Because joy isn’t just for happy times.

Is it possible that you can be just as happy when everything is going wrong as you can when everything is going right?

Is it possible that disappointments and failures and things that seem like the end of the world are really just an invitation to correct your perspective?

Is it possible that a good attitude can make the worst situations become grand adventures?

There’ve been a lot of new faces surfacing on this blog recently, and you’ve all probably seen my tagline: Finding joy in the daily hum-drummities of life. So yes, newsflash: I’m a huge hypocrite who hasn’t yet learned to practice what I preach. (Thank goodness God still bears with me, even when I have a mental breakdown over cinnamon rolls.) But as I look to 2019 (please tell me it’s not actually tomorrow…), this is what I want to remember:

I am not in control of my circumstances. I am not in control of what God decides to do with my circumstances. But I am in control of my attitude.

And attitude makes the difference between misery and joy.

Happy New Year, folks, and let this be our battle cry for 2019: That no matter what God flings at us in the upcoming 365 day cycle, we will choose contentment. We will choose faith. We will choose joy.

Joy in the daily hum-drummities of life.


19 thoughts on “Tales of Christmas Woe // wisdom for the new year

  1. Loved this Sarah! Yikes… those cinnamon rolls really did not turn out, wow. I have actually never heard of bean flour before this and I think I’ll steer clear. 😛

    It can definitely be hard to be joyful in the midst of rough circumstances. I hope you have an amazing 2019!! I personally am super excited for the new year. 🙂


  2. Bean flower sounds like something from a NIGHTMARE.

    When I was younger homemade chocolate chip cookies were my bane, now… its macaroni *eye twitches*
    But you are right about being joyful – and its something I myself need to work on (seeing I am more of a grey skies and “the ice cream’s gonna melt before we get home” sort of attitude – aka I’m closer to being a pessimist than an optimist). =P
    I’m actually considering making “Joy” my theme for 2019 – do you have a favorite verse on the topic?


    1. Plot twist: Bean flour is the dust from all the people who disintegrated in Infinity War. Or something like that.

      *cackles* That’s a WONDERFUL theme for the year. I always found John 15 rather inspiring — not that it’s explicitly speaking about joy, but there are numerous verses that give a pretty good idea of why we should be joyful. (Particularly verses 9-11.) The same goes with Hebrews 12:1-2. Then of course, there’s the ever popular James 1:2-3, and.. and…

      A myriad of others. The Bible is such a wonderful thing for this topic.


    2. *pokes head into conversation* Macaroni as in macaroni and cheese? The trick is to add more butter (just a little more) and milk (it says 1/4 cup, more like 1/3) than the box tells you to and stir til the sauce is smooth. Hope that helps against your bane. :3


  3. Hey, Sarah! I saw your description of cinnamon rolls and I had to comment. xD I’m gluten-intolerant and made gluten-free cinnamon rolls for Christmas as well, so be comforted — mine were the saddest specimens of Christmas morning confection ever to grace my baking repertoire; so much so that I took no photos. But they tasted amazing, so yay. 100% agreed about bean flour — DON’T DO IT FOLKS. Rice flour, tapioca starch, and almond flour is the way to go. xD

    (Enjoying your blog! I’m a fellow Christian artist & writer. Love your style. =D)


  4. If it’ll make you feel better, I’ve made many bean cakes, cupcakes, and the like. They turned out beautifully.

    I have not, however, made cinnamon rolls with them. I’m sure they’d turn out awfully. PLUS, I used ACTUAL beans, not pre-made bean flour. And it was batter. Not dough. Which probably makes all the difference. *incredibly uplifting grin*

    Ne’ertheless— good post. AMEN AND AMEN.


  5. LOVE this…didn’t know about the burned hand…hope it’s doing better! Hope the next visit will be longer….hardly had time to say hi lol love you sweetie 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Love this, though I can feel your pain!!! *winces* The hand… *shudders* I once got a steam burn that practically melted about 3 layers of flesh off a large portion of my left thumb (and that’s not even my dominant hand!) that made things difficult for a couple weeks, mainly because every time we took the bandage off, it would pull skin with it. My brilliant mother finally found out a way to protect it without a bandage: cut a toilet paper roll in half and tape it to my wrist. It covered the burn without touching it, finally giving the wound a chance to scab and heal. 🙂
    I am glad that you are feeling better now, and I look forward to seeing what adventures the Lord has planned for you in 2019!!! 😀


  7. Dontcha just love it when all the bad things happen on the one day you were expecting to go really well? *makes mental note to never buy bean flour*

    Being joyful despite the circumstances is definitely something I need to work on! Thanks for the encouragement to choose joy.



  8. I am 100% sure It’s a Wonderful Life can cure any ill. Or…anything, actually.
    But ugh, the feeling you get when everything goes the wrong way. Good for you, for learning from it, though, Sarah! I enjoyed your post.

    Also bean flour? BEAN FLOUR? I’ve heard of almond flour, rice flour, cassava flour and such, but never bean flour. Hmmm. Sounds interesting. Although I don’t think I’m up for experimenting with it.


  9. Ouch, yeah. I feel you. The days nothing goes right and it’s all stupid things but it still is miserable. But… that was all last year, right? *bright grin*


  10. This was a great post. I really just leave the baking to my oldest sister (who just got accepted into a baking course in college) so I can’t relate very much to your baking. But I agree that we should try to find the joy. That’s probably the only way to make it through all of our school. 😛


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