A New Year

Long ago, my college professor told us to choose a poem to recite in class. Students chose lofty selections from the greats. Whitman, Dickinson, Frost. I consulted Daddy's Hank Williams songbook.

10:40 P.M.—New Year’s Eve. Hank Williams is on my radio. My wife is sleeping in the passenger seat. My coonhound is in the backseat.

To bring in the year, we’ve gone for a drive on county roads that weave along the Choctawhatchee Bay.

There are no cars out. The highway is vacant—except for police cruisers. I’ve never welcomed in a year like this.

As a boy, my father and I brought in holidays with shotguns. We’d march to the edge of creation and fire twelve gauges at the moon. Then, I’d sip Coca-Cola; he’d sip something clear.

Another year goes by without him.

11:02 P.M.—my tank is on E. I stop at a gas station. The pump card-reader is broken. My wife is still out cold.

I go inside to pay. The clerk is a young girl with purple hair. She wanted to be with her kids tonight, but someone called in with a sinus infection.

I buy a Coca-Cola in a plastic bottle.

I also buy a scratch-off lotto ticket. The last few minutes of the year, I’m feeling lucky. I use my keys to scratch the ticket. I win five bucks. So, I buy another two. I win another dollar.

“Lucky you,” the cashier says. “Wish I could buy one, but it’s against store policy.”

To hell with policy. It’s New Year’s Eve.

I buy her one.

She swipes a coin from the take-a-penny tray. She scratches. She wins ten bucks. We high-five.

It’s only ten bucks, but seeing her win makes my year.

11:28 P.M.—I’m driving. My wife is still sawing pinelogs. I’m riding though the North Florida woods, sipping Coke. Trees grow so high you can’t see the moon. It’s almost like poetry.

Long ago, my college professor told us to choose a poem to recite in class. Students chose lofty selections from the greats. Whitman, Dickinson, Frost.

I consulted Daddy’s Hank Williams songbook. He’d given it to me before he died. He’d wanted to be a guitar player once upon a time, but he was god-awful. He gave the instrument to me.

I recited, “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry,” and made a D.

I wasn’t doing it for the teacher.

11:40 P.M.—my Coke is almost empty. I’m parked on the edge of the bay to watch fireworks. My coonhound is looking at me with red eyes. And I’m writing you, just like I do every day.

Listen, I don’t remember how I started writing, or why. I have nothing valuable to say, I don’t know any big words, and I’m as plain as they come. But I won’t lie to you, it has been precious to me. And so have you.

These are my last words of the old year, my first words of the new:

I love you.

Happy New Year.


  1. Sheila Turner - January 3, 2017 1:19 pm

    Please don’t ever stop writing. I would put you in the same category as Bragg and Conroy. Your words feed my soul. It is a gift from God you have.

  2. Beverly Stovall - January 3, 2017 1:27 pm



  3. Martha Riddle - January 3, 2017 3:11 pm

    Thank you so much for writing for me every day! Some days I read it first,mothers I save until I can sit and savor. Please keep it going!

  4. Anne H - January 6, 2017 8:04 pm

    Happy New Year and I must say that I like you as plain as you are. My kind of people.

  5. marsha - February 4, 2017 9:35 pm

    You write about real life. The good, the bad and the ugly. You give hope and you touch my soul. I love you.

  6. Rebecca King - April 21, 2017 3:21 pm

    You and I seem cut from very similar cloth. Plain and simple, truthful, wishful and many days lost in memories. God blessed you with such talent. Please never stop sharing with us.

  7. Carolyn - January 1, 2018 10:04 am

    I love you back, Sean. Happy New Year!

  8. Doc - January 1, 2018 12:18 pm

    Sounds kinda like our New Year’s Eve…rode the windy, hilly, Tennessee roads to town to get a “taco” (code for anything Mexican), had a mocha and a donut on the ride home, stopped at the Shell for a couple of scratch-offs (what the heck!), won $9 (almost covered the tacos), listened to the Forrester Sisters “I’d Choose You Again”, then bed by 1030 to saw logs! It was perfect. Thanks for sharing life. Much love and all the richest blessings in the New Year!

  9. Susan Hatfield - January 1, 2018 12:45 pm

    Love you too big Guy. Happy new year.

  10. Gloria - January 1, 2018 1:16 pm

    As always, you bring joy to my heart. ❤️

  11. Jan - January 1, 2018 1:24 pm

    God bless you, Sean!

  12. Candy McCranie Hicks - January 1, 2018 1:33 pm

    Thank you for sharing your life and helping us be happy about everyday. Love you too. It’s gonna be a GREAT new year ! ! ! !

  13. Dan Wise - January 1, 2018 2:24 pm

    My Father James L. Wise had a great sense of humor and loved to rearrange word pronunciations. One of my favorite was Chocta-Whatchee!

  14. Kathy Huggins - January 1, 2018 2:29 pm

    We love you back!

  15. Phil Padgett - January 1, 2018 3:14 pm

    Many of us don’t know why we do what we do we just do it , keep doing what you’re doing although you may not have much of importance to say you can tell it all comes from the heart! Happy New Year and God Bless!

  16. Martha - January 1, 2018 3:18 pm

    Thanks sir. Love ya back. Have a stupendous 2018❣️

  17. Sara - January 1, 2018 3:28 pm

    Love you too Sean, happy new year!

  18. Jen - January 1, 2018 3:45 pm

    We love you too! Keep up the good work!

  19. ANgel Alexander - January 1, 2018 4:08 pm

    Love your writings! Watch those cokes though…they are a killer”

  20. Patricia Ramage - January 1, 2018 5:03 pm

    Always read your love-filled stories. Isn’t art supposed to invoke emotion?

  21. De - January 1, 2018 5:17 pm

    I grew up in small town Mississippi. Your words are home to me.

  22. Smitty - January 1, 2018 5:21 pm

    Thanks for doing what you do, Sean. You touch heartstrings every day and point us back toward real life. Happy New Year!

  23. Millie Robinson - January 1, 2018 5:41 pm

    Sometimes very ordinary things are what need to be said and brought to our attention! You have an extraordinary gift of seeing what the rest of us miss. Thanks– and Happy New Year!

  24. unkle - January 1, 2018 6:34 pm

    stoped in a gas station in Cambelton fl. pumped 10.00 gas and walked in. looked at the scratch and sniffle tickets and told the lady to pock me a 10.00 one. she picked a ticket and i gave her a dollar. she watched as i scratched it off to reveal the 10.00 winner. i slid it across the counter and with a” soap eating grin” said well there you go . she was impressed, and i was amazed. she said can you do that again ? i just smiled an told her that famous John Wayne line from Big Jake . “NOT HARDLY.” i grinned all the way to PCB. Happy New Year to all y’all. got those black eye peas and pork cookin . smells great. this is gona be a great year folks. clear and cold and you can almost see the edge of Heaven if you try. have a great day . Tell all your friends and family about Sean of the South. That’s how I heard about him. He is a force of good to be reckoned with. we all need some good news about non “news worthy ” folks. uk

  25. Katherine Maiorano - January 2, 2018 1:28 am

    I love you too….Sean of the South!!

  26. Judy Broussard - January 2, 2018 5:16 am

    I love your writings. They bring some very good memories to mind. Keep it up.

  27. Denise Hammond - January 2, 2018 12:35 pm

    I love you too, cannot wait to see you in my home town Palatka, FL. Hope you can stay a while and let some of us locals show you what tourist never see.

  28. Becky S Word - January 4, 2018 9:28 pm

    Happy New Year, Sean! Don’t stop writing to us – you are very dear to the hearts of many!

  29. Nell Thomas - March 17, 2019 7:41 am

    Write on.


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