John O’Leary shares how this question often asked after opening Christmas presents can be answered to set your intention for the day.
“To be content with little is difficult;
to be content with much, impossible.”
– Marie von Ebner-Eschenbach
“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, however, also be incredibly busy and stressful. In particular during a global pandemic.
Several years ago we went to church with Beth’s family on 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 songs and open more Christmas 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, stuffing stockings and then finally collapsing into bed.
As the sun peeked 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 and 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.
The question asked on many Christmas mornings and how you can answer to set your intention for the day and your spirit free.
Then, after opening his last present, our oldest looked up, 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 cards we sent for 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?”
With those irritating 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.
How to spot the truly meaningful “Christmas presents.”
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 in a little town when no one is around, no one notices and no one fathoms the transformational event that just occurred.
I then reminded the kids of the awesome reason we celebrate Christmas.
My friends, as you prepare for your holiday season, 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 bad of your life have already lead you perfectly to where you are today and providentially to what’s possible tomorrow.
And be convinced that the foundation is firm, 2020 almost behind us and the best is yet to come.
This is your day. Live Inspired.
2 replies on “Is that all?”
Thank you John for your wonderful insight through the years. I appreciate your positive leadership as it often reminds me just to stop and reflect on what is going on around me. I too am excited for the kids to open their gifts on Friday but more importantly spending a little time building legos with my boys and watching my little girls face as she holds her stuffed toys tight and hear the words, I love you dad, are my biggest joy. As we unpack what this year has taught us, which is a lot, I try to stop and smell the flowers that someone brought in my office last week, spend a few minutes with a colleague listening and asking questions about their family, watch a show with my wife that she likes, teach my kids something fun and do a little work around the house because it brings me joy. This has been a transformational year and I just want to thank you from the bottom of my heart for your inspiration, it gets noticed.
Your friend, Chris
Thank you so much John for this letter and all that your do. I sent my Dad your first book last year and have it on the ‘list’ to send your latest. He really enjoyed it and was in awe.
Blessings and warm wishes for you and your Family, now and into the next year!