Give Thanks

The truth is, I used to hate holidays. They made me remember how lonely I was after my father died. They made me feel like an orphan. But I don’t feel that way anymore. Instead, I feel lucky. Very lucky. And grateful.

It’s a few days until Thanksgiving. The neighborhood is buzzing. There are vehicles lining the street. Minivans, trucks, SUV’s, Fords, Kias.

Families are in town.

My neighbor’s grandchildren just arrived from Georgia. They’re playing in the front yard. I overhear them screaming, “TAG! YOU’RE IT!”

“I’M NOT IT! YOU’RE IT!”

“NUH-UH!”

“YES-HUH!”

“OUCH! I’LL KILL YOU!”

“I DARE YOU TO TRY!”

“#$%!@”

“HELLLP! GRANDPAAA!”

Just yesterday, a cantankerous elderly man up the street asked if I would help hang his Christmas lights. I reminded him that I’ve had two back-surgeries, one tonsillectomy, and I’m Southern Baptist.

He is Pentecostal and doesn’t believe in tonsillectomies.

It took three hours on a ladder to hang those god-forsaken lights. He stood below and preached my ear off for the entire time.

When we were through, I was sweating. He opened a garage refrigerator and asked if I wanted an ice-cold chocolate milk.

“That depends,” I said. “Is it manufactured by the Anheuser Busch Company?”

Some Pentecostals can’t take a joke.

“Chocolate milk will be fine,” I remarked.

Christmas comes earlier each year. It wasn’t but a few weeks ago that children in pirate costumes were at my front door, panhandling for candy. Now it’s Christmas lights in November.

And if you ask me, the holidays can’t get here quick enough.

My wife has already started cooking to get a jumpstart on Thanksgiving. Our home is alive with aroma. It smells like cornbread dressing, allspice, and sweet potato pie.

There are candied pecans on the counter—fresh from the baking sheet. My wife will brain any man who ventures near them. This I know from the trial-and-error approach.

A ham is in the oven. And a poundcake is in the immediate vicinity. I sampled both without permission this morning and got neutered with a melon baller.

She also made cheese-straws, lemon squares, chocolate chip cookies, peanut brittle, and peppermint bark.

And before bed tonight, she will boil a bushel of green peanuts. She will place them on the stove before we turn the lights out.

Her boil-pot is the size of a Lincoln Continental. I love her so much it makes my eyes blur.

The truth is, I used to hate holidays. They made me remember how lonely I was after my father died. They made me feel like an orphan. But I don’t feel that way anymore. Instead, I feel lucky. Lucky and grateful.

Anyway, you ought to see this November sunset. The sky is purple-orange, the air is a crisp sixty-two, and I can see twinkling lights in the distance, belonging to a Pentecostal.

My neighbor’s grandchildren are done playing with him. My neighbor’s adult son is my age, he walks off the porch. He hugs his dad. The two grown men embrace for awhile.

“I love you, Dad,” says the son.

“Love you, son.”

I won’t lie. Sometimes, I wish I had a father to hug for the holidays. But I don’t. So if you happen to have a one, you ought to hug your father so hard you hear his bones pop. And I mean soon.

If you don’t have a father.

Find me. I could use a good hug.

42 comments

  1. Mary - November 20, 2017 10:10 am

    I love it!!!!! If I could write like you, I could express just how much!!!!

    Reply
  2. Nancy - November 20, 2017 10:48 am

    How sweet a hug from my Dad would be right now. He passed away in March at the ripe old age of 95. The morning he passed the nurse asked him how he was feeling. He gave his standard answer when asked that question, “With my hands!” I will take that hug from you – I miss him and his corny jokes.

    Reply
  3. Linda Parker - November 20, 2017 11:22 am

    Sending you a hug! I miss my dad also but my heart hurts for your loss, so more than a hug I pray for a special blessing for your heart. You will recognize it..cause that is what you do..you see beyond the obvious. It is a gift that you share. It is such a blessing to read your observations each day. The other morning I woke up at 230 am, trying to figure how to help my grown children. Wasn’t upset, just talking to God with what I saw as options. After I was talked out I turned on my computer and there your words were at 3:15am- and a reminder that God Sees Me. (it was so neat because I don’t always see your words in the morning-so I felt this was meant for me!) I already knew that but your reminder brought the relief of much “needed to be released’ tears. Your words just stirred the knowledge in my heart. Comfort from the Father we share, through you. So I pray you and your sweet wife have unexpected blessings this season.

    Reply
  4. Sandra Smith - November 20, 2017 11:50 am

    I am SO grateful for every, Daddy Day, I had, but I won’t lie. I’d give the toes on my feet, for one more.
    Kicked back in his ol’ pick up, feet on the dash, Windows down, riding the back roads and pig trails of South Mississippi, sippin’ on an RC Cola, and munching on a bag of salty peanuts, I’d dropped down in it…
    He’d put Hank Sr, Acuff, or Jim Reeves, in the tape deck, and we’d ride and sing, but most times I’d just close my eyes and listen to Daddy sing…and, I feel the wind on my face, and I hear Daddy’s rich, baritone voice….”pick guitar, fill fruit jar, and be gay, ohhh. For tonight I’m gonna see my m’cher a’mio…
    See what you did, Sean…..
    Thank You !
    Happy Thanksgiving to you & yours !

    Reply
  5. dkbfox - November 20, 2017 11:54 am

    My dad was not one of the good dads, but my husband is and our son and son-in-law are. I am sharing this on Facebook, so they will see it.

    Reply
  6. Leia Lona - November 20, 2017 12:45 pm

    I am hugging you from afar.

    Reply
  7. steve21745 - November 20, 2017 12:46 pm

    Well, Sean, Me and Meemaw could use another son. We lost our Josh early – sudden – practically in our arms – unexpected just recently. He was 36. We couldn’t stand the pain of living there in TN so we moved to Opelika to be near our daughter and our grands. Yes, seriously, we could use another son, and offer a lot of big hugs if you decide to be one of us. Meemaw’s not the hugger, I am. I’m 72 still hunt and fish, try to sell a little real estate, make walking sticks from tobacco sticks, make crafts from deer antler, have a little shop where we could piddle and pout. I write a few faith-based stories about God’s grace, love and glory – maybe you could give me a pointer or two. Yes the offer is sincere. would love to have you as my son and I have lots of hugs in my pocket. I’ll be sure to save a few for you – cause I somehow feel you drop by one day. Steve Alberts 2100 Austell St. Opelika, AL email onstevesmountain@yahoo.com. Please come see me! Hugs are waiting.

    Reply
  8. GeeGee Chandler - November 20, 2017 1:07 pm

    In words, you have written a Norman Rockwell Saturday Evening Post cover.

    Reply
  9. Debi - November 20, 2017 1:23 pm

    Yeah. My Mom and Dad are gone too soon. My brothers are estranged. Thanksgiving and Christmas are tortuous. I’m so glad you found someone who brought the joy of the holidays back into your life. You are truly blessed. Oh, I need a hug, too. ✌🏽

    Reply
  10. Maria Delgado Daniels - November 20, 2017 1:38 pm

    I had a father but didn’t have a father, he was never a part of my life. I send you a virtual hug and want you to know I’m thankful for you, your writing makes me look at life in a different way.

    Reply
  11. Ann - November 20, 2017 2:17 pm

    I wish I had a father to hug also. Everyone should be grateful and blessed to have a father and a mother.

    Reply
  12. Janne Swearengen - November 20, 2017 2:22 pm

    I could use a good hug as well. We’ll be balanced.

    Reply
  13. teachenglish67 - November 20, 2017 2:25 pm

    My Daddy went to Heaven in ’97. He’d lived a full life, loved my mother and was loved by her, loved his children (3 of us) and was loved by us. I was the only one who called him “Daddy”; it just fit the man. I miss him and my mother who went to Heaven to join him in ’01. There is no substitute for Daddy, and there never will be. My husband was my children’s step-father. He was a good “daddy” although he’d never had children of his own. Then along came my 2 grandchildren. Special needs with multiple challenges, but he didn’t care. We adopted them in 2000. I was 55 and Beloved was 60. He loved them and guided them until he went to Heaven in ’11.
    Most any man can be a father, but it takes a very special one to be a daddy, especially to children who are not even your blood.
    Thank you, Sean for inviting me to tell about my Daddy and Beloved.

    Reply
  14. shanatproctorgmailcom - November 20, 2017 2:33 pm

    I lost my daddy when I was 18 to a car wreck. I too wish I could give him a big hug. Wish you and I could share a hug. I hope you have a fantastic Thanksgiving and Christmas, but with your description of all your wife is doing already, I’m sure you will.

    Reply
  15. william vessier - November 20, 2017 2:34 pm

    Sending you a virtual hug, Sean!!!!

    Reply
  16. Elizabeth May - November 20, 2017 2:36 pm

    ABSOLUTELY WONDERFUL!!!!! A BLESSING TO START MY DAY! THANK YOU, LORD, AND YOU TOO, SEAN,

    Reply
  17. Donna J. masmar - November 20, 2017 2:53 pm

    Happy Thanksgiving, Sean

    Reply
  18. Jack Fuller - November 20, 2017 2:57 pm

    Sean, you can get inside my head. Hope you got the hug. Thanks.

    Reply
  19. Pamela McEachern - November 20, 2017 3:20 pm

    I’m pretty much on my own but I am still very lucky to have some family and very dear friends. I agree with you Sean, a hug is very special and if you find yourself still feeling hungry Thanksgiving well get up and eat some more! Blessings to you and your’s. Peace and Love from Biringham

    Reply
  20. Connie - November 20, 2017 3:23 pm

    Happy Thanksgiving honey. I hope you’re surrounded by love and laughter and good food. I’m sending you a big grandma-quality hug from Alabama. You enrich our lives. I’ve started cooking for Thanksgiving too. My granddaughter will be there with me in the kitchen, sharing the work and learning the things she will need to know one day to host her own Thanksgiving. All my kids will be there but one, some nieces, some friends who have no place to go. I’m so broke I can’t pay attention, but our tables will be full and people will leave knowing they are loved. I’m an old Southern grandma-food equals love. God bless.

    Reply
  21. Jack Darnell - November 20, 2017 3:36 pm

    Okay this one done it. I ain’t coming back until tomorrow. My daddy was a ‘Pennycostal’ preacher. I wished all my youth he was Southern Baptist, after I got older and was no longer called that ‘holiness preacher’s kid’ I got okay with it. LOL Good post, almost as southern as Georgia. 😉

    Reply
  22. Larry J. Bays - November 20, 2017 3:57 pm

    keep them coming. You have made this 63 year old want to read again.

    Reply
  23. Debbie Taylor - November 20, 2017 4:12 pm

    I’m pretending to be your dad and sending you a big hug!!

    Reply
  24. Wendy - November 20, 2017 4:30 pm

    I’m thankful to have had a loving father. I pray that more parents will “man-up” … whether male or single female to set good examples for their kids. My best daddy in the universe was in the hospital for routine tests. He was supposed to come home the following day, but something went wrong & he went to heaven instead. I miss his hugs every day & don’t understand it, but cling to a quote I read. “Without doubt, there is no faith.”

    Reply
  25. Carol carper - November 20, 2017 5:07 pm

    Sending you a big hug all the way from Gainesville, GA

    Reply
  26. Pat Byers - November 20, 2017 6:13 pm

    what GiGi said? ditto !

    Reply
  27. Laura - November 20, 2017 6:55 pm

    Oh, Sean! I know what you mean about those hugs from Daddy. My Dad has been gone for nearly 15 years. I miss him so much but holidays are the worst! Nobody’s hugs are quite the same (and this from a big time hugger of everyone- even strangers if they need or want it). My Dad was 87 when he died. He had had a stroke and didn’t even know me most of the time, but even then, his hug was wonderful!! .I enjoyed your hug when we met in Montgomery recently and if I was there I would give you another! Happy Thanksgiving!

    Reply
  28. Debra - November 20, 2017 9:05 pm

    Another lovely eye-watering glimpse into your life. Thank you.

    Reply
    • Mary C - November 20, 2017 9:23 pm

      I hate the holidays. Reminds me of the family I don’t have. Every movie and commercial tells us the holidays are made for families. I lost my immediate family twenty years ago. I’m no one’s sister or daughter anymore. No one’s wife or mother. After twenty years you’d think I’d be use to it. Instead I’m mentally preparing to be lone again. Does it ever get easier?

      Reply
      • D kivette - November 21, 2017 4:43 am

        Dear Mary,
        I am truly sad that you are lonely. I know the holidays are hard. Close your eyes and take a breath and feel this hug I’m sending to you.

        Reply
  29. Jack Quanstrum - November 20, 2017 9:45 pm

    I heard that!

    Reply
  30. Frieda Borntrager - November 20, 2017 11:36 pm

    Consider yourself huggggged! Have a great Thanksgiving; just don’t eat yourself sick with all the ham and the cake!

    Reply
  31. Sue Thomas - November 21, 2017 12:05 am

    Daddy died in 1974…I’ll hug you and share the feelings. Since you’ve had two back surgeries and a tonsilectomy, I’ll try not to hug too hard.

    Reply
  32. John Grider - November 21, 2017 12:14 am

    I’m old enough to be your father. You get back to Monroeville and I’ll give you a hug.

    Reply
  33. Katherine Morgenstern - November 21, 2017 12:58 am

    You’re a good man, Sean Dietrich.

    Reply
  34. Sandi in FL - November 21, 2017 4:49 am

    Sean, I’m sending your seven hugs … one for each day of the week!
    Have a blessed Thanksgiving.

    Reply
  35. Mellanie Russell - November 21, 2017 5:31 am

    Dearest Sean. Thank you so much for your beautiful heart-felt stories. I have kept every one of them since I signed up to receive them last year. My heart bleeds for you loosing your Daddy as you did. I lost my Daddy in August. He was mentally tormented for many years. I know that he is now wrapped securely in the loving arms of Jesus never to tormented again. I believe with all my heart that our loving Savior truly takes care of those souls of special need. I too miss my Daddy’s loving hugs. Feel the love Sean and know that I’m sending you a special hug. May God richly bless you and your precious wife.

    Reply
  36. Jakki - November 21, 2017 3:25 pm

    My Father wasn’t a hugger but he was a dog lover and I thank him for passing on that trait to me. Hugs and hound-kisses to you and your lovely wife from me and the coonhounds in freezing SK.

    Reply
  37. Susan Hammett Poole - November 21, 2017 11:47 pm

    When I was young, my grandmother would say, “Christmases come closer and closer together every year.” I never quite understood what she meant until I got older and realized the truth of that. Time marches on in double-time trot once you pass 55. Your story today brought smiles to my face, and if I was in your presence, I’d be in line with other readers to give you a huge (((hug))) 💜 💟 💚

    Reply
  38. Jo Brooks - November 22, 2017 1:01 am

    Virtual hug from me. I miss my Daddy a ton. He left this world last Thanksgiving – this one will be hard for all of us kids and my mom.

    Reply
  39. Hank Holcomb - November 23, 2017 10:39 pm

    Me too!

    Reply

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