By John O'Leary. This was originally posted on JohnOLearyInspires.com. When John O'Leary was 9 years old, he suffered burns over 100% of his body and was expected to die. He is now an inspirational speaker and bestselling author, teaching more than 50,000 people around the world each year how to live inspired. John's first book, ON FIRE: The 7 Choices to Ignite a Radically Inspired Life was published March 15, 2016. John is a contributing writer for Huff Post and Parade.com. John is a proud husband and father of four and resides in St. Louis, MO. Order John’s book today anywhere books are sold.
“Is that all?”
It’s an innocent enough question. Unless it’s being asked by one of your kids on Christmas morning.
The holidays are said to be the most wonderful time of the year. They can also be incredibly busy and stressful. Several years ago, we went to church with Beth’s family Christmas Eve and then drove to my parents’ house to reconnect with cousins, eat dinner and open presents. As it got late, we drove our 3-, 5-, 7- and 9-year-old kids back to visit Beth’s family, enjoy a late dessert, more holiday cheer, sing Christmas songs and open more presents.
After an exhausting day, we dragged our four little ones out of the party, tethered them into car seats, drove them home, carried them to their rooms and tucked them into their beds.
Fueled with a glass of wine, Beth and I then assisted Santa with wrapping presents, laying them around the tree and stuffing stockings before finally collapsing into bed.
As the sun began to peek over the horizon, little footsteps pitter-pattered down the hallway, into our bedroom, loudly pronouncing the dawn of Christmas morning.
Pulling their mom and dad out of bed, the kids tugged us downstairs, raced to their stockings, grabbed their presents, tore into their gifts, devoured their candy. Beth and I sipped our coffee, wiped the sleep from our eyes, and savored the little ones around the tree, presents in hands, wrapping paper scattered on the floor.
Then, our oldest looked up after opening his last present, face saddened, and asked, “Is that all?”
Is that all?!
After dealing with the traffic and crowded stores and racing around to get you these special gifts that were on your list, you’re going to ask, “Is that all?”
After all the parties we raced to and outfits we shoehorned you into and pictures we took of you and cookies we baked with you, you’re going to ask, “Is that all?!!”
After wrapping presents and stuffing stockings and laying them around the tree and eating three bites of carrots and sipping milk from Rudolph’s bowl before going to bed at 3am you’re seriously going to ask, “Is that all?”
Counting Our Blessings
With all those thoughts dancing around my head, I took a sip of coffee, then a deep breath, looked back at my little man and reminded him, “No. This is not all. There is so much more. The presents and paper and cookies and cards are just an excuse to celebrate what this thing, this day, this life, is really actually about.”
I then reminded him that real joy, real peace and real love are seldom wrapped, rarely arrive through the chimney and are generally not found under the tree.
Sometimes they arrive as an old friend, a gentle snow, a new love, a family tradition. Other times they can grow out of financial woes and relational challenges, health scares and flight delays. And sometimes the greatest gifts, those that lead to the most profound joy, are birthed when no one is around, no one notices and no one even fathoms the transformation that has just arrived.
My friends, as you clean up from the holiday season and prepare for the New Year, take pause to celebrate and rejoice in the amazing blessings already present in your life. Be in awe of the fact that the seemingly good and the bad of your life has already led you perfectly to where you are today and providentially to what’s possible tomorrow.
I wish you good health, total peace and absolute joy in the New Year ahead. It’s my belief that the best is yet to come. Looking forward to living into that truth with you.
This is your day. Live Inspired.
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