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Portrait of boy sitting by stacked Christmas presents at home“Each day provides its own gifts.”
– Marcus Aurelius [Click to Tweet.]

“Is that all?”

It’s an innocent enough question. Well, unless it’s being asked to you by one of your kids on Christmas morning.

Let me explain. Last Christmas Eve we went to church, to my parents’ Christmas celebration, and then to Beth’s family for dessert, coffee and more holiday cheer. We stayed up late, got up early, lined up on the steps, and raced down together to see if Santa came.

Oh man, he came and the party began! 

The kids checked their stockings, tore into their gifts, devoured their candy and had a freaking blast!

And then my oldest, Jack, after opening his last present, looked at me and asked, “Is that all?”

Is that all?!

After dealing with all 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 wrapping and stuffing stockings and laying them around the tree and eating three bites of carrots and two sips of milk from Rudolph’s bowl before going to bed at 3 AM you’re going to ask “Is that all?”

I looked back back at my little man and remind him, “No. This it not it at all.”

There is so much more. The presents and paper and lights and cookies and cards are just an excuse to celebrate what it is all actually about. [Click to Tweet.]

You see, real joy, peace, and 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 or a family tradition. They may arrive through the least likely of packages: growing out of financial woes and relational challenges; flight delays and personal struggles. Typically they will be birthed when no one is around, no one notices, no one even fathoms the great gift that just arrived.

This holiday season and Christmas week, take pause to open up, celebrate and rejoice in the amazing gifts of your life. The seemingly good and bad of your life unite to lead you perfectly to where you are today and providentially to what’s possible tomorrow.

Don’t look up after opening your last gift this year and wonder, “Is that all?”  Don’t wait until next year to unwrap a present that arrived 2,000 years ago. It’s the greatest you’ll ever open: that regardless of what you encounter today or may face tomorrow, there is reason to rejoice, reason to celebrate and reason to sing out.

As Linus reminded Charlie Brown as he also struggled with the holiday season: “Glory to God in the Highest, and on Earth peace, and good will toward men.”

That’s what Christmas is all about. So, is that all?

Yup, that is all. And that is more than enough.

I wish each of you a healthy and happy holiday, a very merry Christmas, and a joy filled New Year. The best is yet to come. 

0 replies on “Don’t Wait until Next Year”

John, I just finished a book “After the Fire” by Robin Gaby Fisher. It was a true story of two college students critically burned in a dormitory fire at Seton Hall University. I thought about you all the while I read it and found it very interesting. As friends they helped each other through their healing. I’ll never forget your talk that you gave at my son-in-law’s gathering for his workplace – Wells Fargo. I thoroughly enjoyed it and bought the book that your parents wrote. Happy New Year.

Janet, I hadn’t heard of that book — thanks for sharing I’d love to read it. So glad our paths crossed and that you have stayed in touch. Continue boldly and looking forward to a great 2015 for you and the Rising Above community! J

Oh John, John….you never fail to inspire, lift and encourage!!!! I often bring a prayer with me to our family meal for CHRISTmas. We began as a family of 8 and we now number close to 50, and still we gather around my mom’s table (mom is now 82). Thankfully her table is big 🙂 but has many folding tables attached on to it now and flowing into the living room (it works!). I will read/pray your CHRISTmas “Don’t Wait!” message. I’ve already brought my sisters into the “John-Fan Fold” and now I will add more to the club! (Good timing before your book release!!:) ) Thank you for always touching my heart! CHRISTmas blessings to YOU and your family, as you bless our table with your heart!!!!

Merry Christmas John. Yes each day is a gift. Jesus is gift of the season and of all time.

thank you for your gift of sharing your inspiration with me.
Have a wonderful Christmas.

Thanks so much for this story John. We will be having our family get together Christmas Eve and I will be taking this to be read. This is very true this is all we need.

Merry Christmas, Faye. Thanks for letting me be part of your family’s celebration. Enjoy and remember the best is yet to come! J

I love reading your inspirational messages on FB. May you and your family have a wonderful Christmas and many blessings in the New Year. I think you are in Holy Redeemer parish and if I am correct I sat with your wife at the Advent Glow. I didn’t realize it at the time. My daughter, Jamie, hosted the table and also is a member of Holy (as you all call it). Your wife is darling! If I have this all wrong, I apologize. Thanks again for inspiring us!

Hi, Sweet Jill! Thx for your note — yes I have fantastic parish and wife and you have a fantastic daughter! Thank you for sharing your note and for being part of the Rising Above community. Merry Christmas! J

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