Happy Holidays from the O’Connors: 6 Gifts to 7 Children

Happy Holidays from the O’Connor Family to Yours!

 

The birth of my son Jesse Joe has changed my perspective on life, my family and mostly my parents. I guess you don’t realize certain things in life until some type of major shift happens to you, like having a kid.

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Photo Credit: www.shirtoid.com

My parents never told us how to live our lives; they demonstrated a more valuable lesson. Joe & Jane O’Connor did not have to say much, because their actions spoke to us very loudly, they showed us by being a living example of how to live our lives.

When I think about my parents I think about how they have consistently demonstrated joy in their lives. I know they have had their challenges like we all do; yet they never said a negative word about anyone. So my parents have set the bar pretty high for me as a parent. I see their wisdom and life lessons from a different perspective as a new parent.

I want to do what they did and teach my son by my actions, and not just my words.

 

Here are the 6 priorities my parents taught me to hold to:

  1. Faith – has been the cornerstone of my parents’ life. If you are willing to raise seven children it must take a strong faith to endure what we put them through. I know that my parents are thankful for their blessings and see them as direct gifts from God.  Prayer gives them the strength to help alleviate any worries or fears that come to them.
  2. Family – I have seen no greater joy in my parent’s eyes than when they spend time with our family. From major events like births and graduations to soccer games and recitals.  This is not easy considering they have eighteen grandchildren!  I have always been amazed that with the size of our family, they always make a point of finding time to be with just my wife and I. We all get special and individual time from them.
  3. Friends – My parents have had a wide variety of friends over the years, people that share the same values and ethics. I see the value in having friends who have the same core beliefs regardless of your faith or background. The most common thread I’ve seen in my parent’s friends is integrity, and I think that says just as much about my parents as it does about these treasured friends.
  4. Fun – Both my parents grew up as children of funeral directors, so they know how important it is to make the most out of life and have some fun. My Dad is a practical joker who likes to make people laugh and my Mom has been known to throw quite a party! Some of my greatest memories are of our family gatherings.
  5. Photo Credit: Eviva Art via Etsy.com

    Photo Credit: Eviva Art via Etsy.com

    Choices – will define you!  I appreciate that my parents never made our choices for us. They encouraged us to figure things out on our own. Thoughts become words, words become actions, actions become character, character become destiny, and destiny becomes your legacy. Their choice to give us a large amount of independence was a great one for me. By trial and error we learn best – Choose carefully!

  6. Focus – on your life’s dreams, you can be great at whatever you choose to do. As a new parent I can see so much more of my parents wisdom, they never really cared about what we would become, they just have always wanted us to be happy, healthy and the best we could be. My parents always stayed focused on their core beliefs by letting us learn our own life lessons and by giving us themselves as living examples of how to walk through life’s journeys.

As we approach Christmas I have been reflecting on my life. I am so grateful for the relationships I have; Lisa (my wife) Jesse Joe (my son), my parents, siblings, dear friends, co-workers, and colleagues. Life is short; we only have a finite amount of time on this earth. In the end all we have is our faith, family, friends and this gift called life. I hope you all have a happy holiday and you find many new blessing in this New Year.

Joe, Jane & Jesse O’Connor

Question:

What lessons have you learned from your parents or role models?

What do you want to pass on to the next generation?

Neil

About Neil

I was born into a large Irish Catholic family in 1967 as the youngest of seven children. My Grandfathers were best friends & coincidentally, both owners of funeral homes. John Cox (Oakland) had Joseph A. O’Connor (Los Angeles)or “Johnny” as his best man at his wedding. My parents, Joe & Jane O’Connor, met through the friendships of my grandparents. I moved to Laguna Niguel as a child & graduated from Dana Hills High School in 1986. I served in the Navy before finally joining the family business in 1989 and establishing the 4th generation of our family-owned & operated business. In 2000, after the retirement of my father, I became the President & CEO of O’Connor Mortuary. I met my wife, Lisa, in Maui while on a yoga retreat in 2003 and we now have a son - Jesse Joseph O’Connor – the pride & joy of my life. I still actively play Beach Volleyball at Victoria Beach in Laguna Beach and practice Ashtanga Yoga, I’m extremely passionate about these practices, about staying healthy and balanced in my body, mind & soul. As CEO I am privileged to be involved with partners in our community such as Saddleback Hospital, Mission Hospital, Age Well Senior Services, San Juan Capistrano Chamber of Commerce, TIP Trauma Intervention Program, and many others. My driving passion is to provide education, care & support to my family, friends & community. I love helping others when they need it the most.
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  • Anne

    Neil
    Knowing you as you have matured over the last 17 years I have worked with you, I can say I see so much of your parents in you. As you parent, you embrace the beauty of the legacy that Joe and Jane gave to you and each of your sisters and brother. And now, seeing it in word pictures, I see why you have become the guy you are.
    May God bless your lives, give you a beautiful Christmas together, a stellar 2013 and many reasons to be thankful in whatever the future may hold.
    I am very proud of who we are and what we do, with you at the helm.
    Merry Christmas,
    Love
    Anne

    • Lisa O’Connor

      What beautiful words to read this Christmas Eve morning. Thank you for always being so open and kind with your thoughts.

      • Anne Collins

        Thank you, Lisa. Behind every good man is a good woman, as we all know. Merry Christmas!

    • Hi Anne –

      Thank you for your kind words! I hope you have a blessed Christmas and a joyful new year.
      I appreciate our friendship! XOXO

  • Warren Cloven

    You are the man I knew you would be. Congratulations and Merry Christmas to you , your wife and children and to your parents.

    • Hi Warren –

      What a great surprise to hear from you! I have great childhood memories of you! May you have a blessed Christmas and a Happy New Year too!

  • Lisa O’Connor

    You are a great father and I love seeing how excited Jesse gets when you come home from work. It’s even greater to hear the laughter that ensues until bedtime. I am so blessed to have you as my husband. Thank goodness your parents have so many great qualities because I see so many of them in you!

    • Hi Lisa –

      Thank you for all your support and love. I am so blessed to be in your life, Jesse Joe and I are so thankful for you. We love our family time, you make our life better everyday! I love you dearly, XOXO!

  • Neil, Merry Christmas to you, your family and your staff. I am grateful to have gotten to know you many years ago and I value your friendship. You are a wonderful man with an amazing wife. You and Lisa will make a difference for the next generation as your parents did.
    Merry Christmas and my God bless you in the New Year

    • Hi Liz –

      Thank you so much for your kind words. I feel very blessed to know you and Gary.
      I hope this Christmas brings you and your family peace & love.
      May this New Year bring you hope and joy!
      Blessings to you. XOXO

  • Kasey

    Neil…

    A good reminder that our very core beliefs of who we are , start with our family, whether it’s a chosen family or blood relatives .. they set the stage and we live on through them….

    Your folks look great and it’s good to see that Jesse Joe takes after Lisa. … xo

    Merry Christmas to you and your family

    Kasey

    • Hi Kasey –

      Merry Christmas to you and your family! Thank God for Lisa, Jesse & I are lucky men.
      Happy New Year, may this new year bring you peace & love. XOXO

  • Cheryl Lanterna

    What a great reminder to all of us about life and values and family. Thanks, Neil, just what I needed on this wonderful Christmas Eve! Love the beautiful picture of Jesse Joe and your Mom and Dad!
    Happy Holiday to you and your exceptional family!

    • Hi Cheryl –

      We all need reminders of what is important, I have lost site of that many times. I am glad know you have enjoyed this blog. May you have a blessed Christmas and a joyful new year! XOXO

  • Neil,

    This is a great post…you are becoming quite the blogger/writer.

    Ditto on all you had to say! It’s clear you put time, energy and your heart into this thoughtful reflection.

    Thanks Mom and Dad for being such a wonderful gift to all of us, your seven screaming kids! (and 18 grandchildren!)

    • Hi Joey –

      Thanks for the kind words! You have been an inspiration to be as a big brother, a blog Guru and as a friend. I am grateful that we are brothers. Merry Christmas! XOXO

  • Carrie Bayer

    Neil, this is beautiful & reminds me so much of the values that my parent instilled in me. Thank you for putting this out there to show us the way or remind those that may have forgotten what is truly important in life. I’m grateful to be a part of the mortuary family, thank you for choosing me! Merry Christmas, XOXOX….. Carrie

    • Hi Carrie –

      I am grateful that we are friends and teammates in this crazy world! At the end of the day, all we really have is our faith, family & friends to be with, nothing else matters. Merry Christmas! XOXO

  • Jeff Turner

    Neil,

    I am grateful to you and your family and can attest to the integrity of your parents and the amazing job they have done raising all of you. One of the things that has impressed me most in the 23 years I have know them is the genuine care they have for people. All people. Their examples of actively supporting charities has taught me much. Their involvement has been at the ground level, get your hands dirty and work kind of effort.

    Your father has exemplified forgiveness and moving on in ways that I have seldom seen. There is a spirit of grace, mercy and peace about your family that has been so helpful to see lived out.

    Blessings upon,

    Jeff

  • Lori

    Neil,

    You know I think the world of your father. Surely that is because I missed out on having a father figure in my life growing up. I tend to gravitate toward and admire men who would be in the same age group my father would be now. Your father is kind, witty and charming. I am sure he was wonderful to all of you.

    As I watch your eyes light up when you talk about Lisa and Jesse, I know that you have learned from your father’s fine example. I have no doubt Jesse will grow up a man of kindness and integrity, just like his Grandpa and Daddy.

    Merry Christmas to all of the O’Connor’s! I am honored to work for a company that was pioneered by such lovely people as Joe and Jane.

    xoxo,
    Lori

  • Shayna Mallik

    Neil,
    Thank you for sharing and putting this blog out there. This is surly similar to what my parents have and are still teaching me. You as your parents are an amazing parent to Jesse. I know he will grow up to be a great kid and man.
    I hope you all had a great Holiday!!!!

    Shayna

  • HI Shayna –

    Thank you for your reply! It is amazing how life comes full circle when you have kids. Life is much different now, it makes you think about who you are and how you live your life. Happy Holidays to YOU!