To the teenagers in small towns who can’t wait to get out of Dodge, to spread their wings. To adults trapped in big cities, who are sorry they ever felt that way.

To the man I saw, pushing a stroller in the Piggly Wiggly. The girl in the stroller must’ve been twelve. She was well-behaved.

She greeted everyone she saw with happy moans and labored waving.

I stopped to say hello.

Her father quit pushing the stroller. He touched the girl’s face and whispered, “Can you say, ‘hello’ to the man?”

It took a lot of energy for the girl to say it. Her voice was magnificent. “H-H-H-iii,” she said.

“Hi, darling.”

To the young man on the bench outside the gas station. He held his cellphone to his ear. He kept saying into the phone: “Is she gonna be okay?”

He had a puffy red face. Nose sniffing.

“Please tell me she’s gonna be okay,” he said.

The gas-station clerk sat beside him. She lit a cigarette and placed her arm around his shoulder.

To the old woman, out for a walk in her neighborhood. Her therapist was beside her. Her gait was labored. She winced with each step.

The therapist said, “You can do it, Helen.”

Helen did it.

To the woman who wrote me. The same woman who buried her husband and son two years ago. Who feels guilty because she’s fallen in love with another man and his ten-year-old daughter.

To the old fella playing guitar in downtown Pensacola, on the street. His guitar had burn marks on it. He was grinning at passerbyers, plucking holiday music.

To the teenagers in small towns who can’t wait to get out of Dodge, and spread their wings. To adults trapped in big cities, who are sorry they ever felt that way.

To anyone homesick at Christmastime. To those missing old friends, old stomping grounds, old fishing buddies, family tables. To grandparents.

To children grieving fathers. To mothers grieving babies. To people who’ve ever grieved at all.

To children of divorce. To the pregnant teenage girl—afraid to tell her family.

To the kid who wants to learn to play guitar so someone will notice him. To the child insecure because of his or her body. To the soft-spoken. To the talk-aholics. To the under-confident writers. To those who feel ugly.

To those who wish they knew what they wanted to do with their life.

To Kaylie, who sent me an email saying: “Will you ask God to heal my mom?”

To Tyler who wrote: “I feel like a big loser after my boss let me go…”

To my father—God rest his soul. To my mother. To my coonhound, Ellie Mae—who is twelve years old.

To the woman who cares for her dying father, full-time. To the man who cares for his wife after her massive stroke.

To the white-haired Baptist preacher who lost his leg to diabetes, but still preaches every Sunday.

To the seventy-six-year-old lady who cares for abused women in her own home.

To you. Wherever this life finds you tonight, I wish you knew how much you mean to this world. I wish you could feel all that love in your gut.

This is for you. To your loved ones. To your family. To your kids.

But most of all, it’s to the girl in the stroller. Who only said one word to me. I still haven’t stopped thinking about her.

Because I don’t want to.

Merry Christmas.

54 comments

  1. theholtgirls - December 15, 2017 7:16 am

    Merry Christmas, Sean. *Snuffle, wiping nose* Merry Christmas!

    Reply
  2. Marin Muncaster - December 15, 2017 7:18 am

    To you, Sean… Thank you for your gift of words!

    Reply
  3. Caron Sellers - December 15, 2017 9:44 am

    Tears eyes here in Bagley, Alabama after reading this post. Merry Christmas to you!

    Reply
  4. Pamela Verbel - December 15, 2017 10:55 am

    Merry Christmas, Sean. Keep writing!

    Reply
  5. Connie - December 15, 2017 10:57 am

    Merry Christmas Sean. For every tear you’ve made me shed, for every clutch of my heart, for every smile you’ve put on my face and for every encouraging word you write- thank you.

    Reply
    • Ann Moyers Syfert - December 15, 2017 6:44 pm

      Connie, I normally don’t add a comment because I feel so inadequate. I simply can’t come up with words wonderful enough for how I feel after reading Sean every day. But, if I may say, your words are the ones that are in my heart every single day. So thank you!!! And Merry Christmas to you and to Sean and to everyone that he loves.

      Reply
  6. Nfutral - December 15, 2017 12:19 pm

    Missing my son. But perspective is everything. Merry Christmas!

    Reply
  7. PJ Johnson - December 15, 2017 12:56 pm

    You are very special, Sean. May the love of the holidays come you way too.

    Reply
  8. Harriet - December 15, 2017 12:59 pm

    Thank you for your gift of words everyday, Sean. What treasures I find in my inbox!

    Reply
  9. Judy Ennis - December 15, 2017 1:01 pm

    And, a very Merry Christmas back to you Sean. You make my day brighter!

    Reply
  10. Melanie Tighe - December 15, 2017 1:12 pm

    Thank you Sean. This is a tough time of year for so many of us. Your words give us hope and comfort. P.S. I love reading about Ellie Mae. I raised a part Blue Tick Coonhound/part pit bull from 3 weeks old. He is now 7 and just a big ole mess that also loves to ride shotgun in my 2005 pickup. Thank the heavens above for dogs.

    Reply
  11. Barbara - December 15, 2017 1:15 pm

    I so look forward to your daily writings and wondering where you have been (or I!) that I am just now discovering you? Thank you for making my day!

    Reply
    • Linda H - December 15, 2017 3:12 pm

      I know, Barbara … just “found” him and it’s like a Christmas present to me … makes my morning every single day. Merry Christmas to you! Linda

      Reply
  12. Kay - December 15, 2017 1:53 pm

    Sean, your columns never fail to move me. Sometimes they make me cry. In a good way. Thank you.

    Reply
  13. Linda - December 15, 2017 1:57 pm

    Merry Christmas Sean. I am grateful I found your writings this year….
    You mean a lot to people you don’t even know….but please know we are here listening to your stories and your stories make us all a little kinder ……

    Reply
  14. Carolyn Allen - December 15, 2017 2:00 pm

    And Merry Christmas to you, Sean. I won’t stop thinking about you…..and Ellie Mae.
    Carolyn

    Reply
  15. Larry Popwell - December 15, 2017 2:12 pm

    Thank you for all you write and all you feel.
    Larry Popwell

    Reply
  16. Summer Hartzog - December 15, 2017 2:50 pm

    I am or love several of those you address here. God bless you. And Merry Christmas to you, too.

    Reply
  17. Mary Collett - December 15, 2017 2:50 pm

    MERRY CHRISTMAS, Sean, and God Bless you.

    Reply
  18. muthahun - December 15, 2017 3:00 pm

    Back atcha, darlin’. Keep shining that light. It’s a good one.

    Reply
  19. Mellanie Russell - December 15, 2017 3:17 pm

    Thank you Sean for your blessed stories. I’m sure they come from deep within your soft loving heart. I look forward with anticipation everyday to see what you’ve written. I have every email from you in my inbox since January. I love to go back and re-read your stories. Merry Christmas to you and your family. And Ellie Mae! God bless y’all.

    Reply
  20. Pat - December 15, 2017 3:22 pm

    Thank you and Merry Christmas to you and your family!

    Reply
  21. Marjorie - December 15, 2017 3:26 pm

    Sean, you give us Hope. God bless you. Merry Christmas to you and yours. Merry Christmas everyone.

    Reply
  22. Brian Heinz - December 15, 2017 3:31 pm

    Thank you Sean and Merry Christmas keep love in your heat your eyes set on Christ and touch as many people you can with the LOVE of God.

    Reply
  23. Ava - December 15, 2017 3:32 pm

    Merry Christmas to everyone. You are all special.

    Reply
  24. Lynda - December 15, 2017 3:32 pm

    Merry Christmas, Sean. I, too, look forward to your writings every day. You have the gift, my friend. Keep up the excellent work. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you, your wife, and Ellie May from a devoted fan in Alaska.

    Reply
  25. alice cooper - December 15, 2017 3:37 pm

    Another day, another read and more tears…good tears they are. I find I think about your words all through the day. Keep the words coming and I’ll keep the tears coming….you touch our hearts! Merry Christmas to you and yours.

    Reply
  26. Pat Byers - December 15, 2017 3:49 pm

    every day. every single day, you write and my body lurches in an almost sob. sometimes it cries. often it cries. you bring out the best in humanity.
    and i love EllieMay.

    Reply
  27. Diana Williams - December 15, 2017 3:49 pm

    Well.. You did it again.. Tears, tears.. I love your words. Thank you. Merry Christmas to you and your Family.

    Reply
  28. Trina V. - December 15, 2017 4:04 pm

    To you, Sean! Thank you for sharing your experiences with all of us. With every post you make, I am reminded of someone or something dear to me. I am brought to tears and made to laugh. Your writing is a gift. Thank you, thank you, thank you! Merry Christmas!

    Reply
  29. Jack Darnell - December 15, 2017 4:59 pm

    Me too! Me too! Me too! Merry Christmas dude. You make lots of us regular folk think. MERRY CHRISTMAS!
    JAC

    Reply
  30. Jan - December 15, 2017 5:27 pm

    Amen! God bless you and all those you share with us!

    Reply
  31. Terry - December 15, 2017 9:34 pm

    Merry Christmas to you and yours Sean, always look forward to reading your article…

    Reply
  32. Ginger - December 15, 2017 9:53 pm

    Merry Christmas, Sean. Happy Holidays to all of us who struggle in life. Thank you, Sean for paying attention to people who are too often forgotten and for bringing them to our attention. For teaching us to be more aware of others and not just focus on ourselves. For all the good that you do and all the good people that you describe and make real for us. Thank you.

    Reply
  33. Deena - December 15, 2017 10:50 pm

    If we just had a million more Seans in the world,…. we might just make it. Merry to you sweet man .

    Reply
  34. Sue Cronkite - December 15, 2017 10:52 pm

    Merry Christmas and a happy New Year, Sean.

    Reply
  35. Bob Hubbard - December 15, 2017 11:06 pm

    Merry Christmas doesn’t seem to be quite enough, does it. But it is!!!!!

    Reply
  36. Charles L. Scott II - December 15, 2017 11:59 pm

    You’ve got a Great Heart Sean! Merry Christmas and HAppy Holidays to you wherever you may be. Thank you for you daily gifts!

    Reply
  37. Beth - December 16, 2017 12:51 am

    So much of this rang true…

    To you, Sean of the South!

    Reply
  38. Charlotte - December 16, 2017 1:37 am

    Your writing is awesome! Thanks.

    Reply
  39. Marion Pitts - December 16, 2017 2:30 am

    We’re in tune today. I thought about several folks I saw or talked to today while shopping in a mall. I wished many Merry Christmas and was glad I did. My life isn’t perfect and I have much room for improvement, but I was reminded of that many times and in many ways today. God bless you.

    Reply
  40. Sandra Smith - December 16, 2017 3:23 am

    I am, especially grateful for the gift of you this year. ( Finding your column, I mean) You have a most beautiful soul. I know, from the words that come from it, and, they HEAL ours in so many ways.
    Thank you & Merry Christmas !

    Reply
  41. Michael Hawke - December 16, 2017 3:53 am

    May God bless us all.

    Reply
  42. Patricia Gibson - December 16, 2017 4:03 am

    Merry Christmas! !

    Reply
  43. Martha Pearce - December 16, 2017 4:09 am

    Thank you from the grandmother of a special needs girl who l es people and lights up my little fed every day. Merry Christmas.

    Reply
  44. Pamela McEachern - December 16, 2017 4:58 am

    It was brought to my attention that I might like your writings and I have never looked back after reading the first one. I think it has become a gift from you daily and I enjoy the comments from your followers, they seem like really nice folks. You are a man that serves us all and I am grateful for your words of humanity and sincerity. The generousity of your words is comforting and gives me a great start or end of day read. Thank you and it’s coming on Christmas so quickly, I am enjoying everday of the season.
    Peace and Love from Birmingham

    Reply
  45. candyalso - December 16, 2017 10:57 am

    From Fairfield Glade, Tn, originally Ozark,Al, Merry Christmas to you, Sean and Jamie and Ellie Mae and all of your families that have become my family!

    Reply
  46. Sharon Allemang - December 16, 2017 5:11 pm

    So beautiful & just what I needed after falling out of tub & realizing how fragile life really is!! There is hope& lovely people where ever you are who want the best for you!! Just thank them & pass the love on to all you encounter! Thanx Sean for your message!’

    Reply
  47. Tiffany - December 16, 2017 7:48 pm

    This is so beautiful. Thank you.

    Reply
  48. Linda Chipman - December 17, 2017 6:05 pm

    And to you Sean for your wonderful words I read every day. Merry Christmas.

    Reply
  49. Marthe Weaver - December 17, 2017 7:26 pm

    I only recently subscribed, after someone shared your work and I happened to see it. What a REFRESHING gift you have. In a crazy world with ludicrous news every day, you are a breath of fresh air. You have a God-given gift, and I am thankful you choose to share it! Keep up the great work!

    Reply
  50. Janet Mary Lee - December 17, 2017 7:31 pm

    People forget sometimes that holidays can be a hard time for some. Life is just too busy. Bless you for giving us pause to think , remember, dream, and pray. You are a good man, Sean! I wish you a gentle Christmas of peace and love. You have chosen a beautiful path!

    Prayers for all for the gift that they need the most this season.

    Reply
  51. unkle kenny - December 18, 2017 2:39 am

    i was at the flee market Saturday, the weather was so nice you knew God was just showin out. i thought about one of your stories about an old yellow handle 2 blade pocket knife. a fellow had a neet collection of old pocket knives and as we talked he lamented the theft of a knife . there was an empty spot where it belonged. he went on to tell me it was a yellow 2 blade case. I almost paid him for it sight unseen to to ease his mind. i hope it went to a ginger boy somewhere. take care. uk

    Reply

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