A Wonderful Life

I was going to write something else. I was going to write a story about my dog, or something about winter. But I’ve changed my mind.

That’s a writer’s prerogative. A writer changes his mind all the time.

Sometimes, for instance, he changes his mind at a restaurant, mid-salad.

But today, I wanted to tell you something important. And I’m not changing my mind about this.

I hope you have a merry Christmas.

That’s it. That’s the purpose of this column. In fact, that will probably be my final sentence when it’s all over. So, you can stop reading here if you’re pressed for time.

Still, because I have a few hundred words left, I am going stretch this out. After all, if writers didn’t expound on topics, all suspense novels would only have two pages, and go like this:

“There was a guy who turned up dead. Blah, blah, blah. It was Colonel Mustard in the parlor. The end.”

And who wants to read books like that?

So let me tell you about a kid I once knew:

There was once a kid who wanted to write. Sometimes, it seemed like he was no good at it. But that’s where you came in. You told him he could do it.

You took different forms, but you’re more or less the same person. You’re kindness. Charity. Goodness. You are every nice person that kid ever met.

You are the man in Piggly Wiggly who returned the kid’s wallet. You didn’t have to do that, but you did.

And you’re the man in Montgomery, who bought the kid and his wife a tank of gas when their credit card was declined at the pump.

You were the person who befriended the kid. You didn’t try to “help” the kid. You just let him talk.

And, you were the college professor who actually took the time to read what the kid wrote. Then, you took even more time to send a letter via the U.S. Mail which included the sentence:

“You’re a wonderful writer!!!!”

And you used FOUR exclamation marks. Four.

And you’ve been there through the years. You change shapes, and faces, but you’re there. And you make it a wonderful life.

You were the police officer who came to see the kid speak at a tiny Rotary Club meeting. There were maybe eight people in the audience. You clapped when his speech was done. Then, as if you hadn’t done enough, you took him to eat lunch at a taco truck thereafter—WITH half the police department.

The kid remembers that. In his book, it goes down as one of his top-forty greatest hits.

You were the ten-year-old-girl, who wore rags for clothes. Who had no parents, and a sad home life.

You approached the kid-writer after he gave a speech at your school, and said, “I wish you had a podcast. Because I like podcasts, they make me feel like I have friends, since nobody ever wants to be my friend.”

The writer didn’t even know what podcast was. But the very next week, with the help of a technologically inclined friend, he bought fifty-two-dollars’ worth of recording equipment from the classified section of the newspaper. And a podcast was born.

You were the homeless man who gave the kid your very own pocketknife because you said it was a good luck charm.

You were Uncle Kenny, who kept the kid supplied with beer.

You were the friend who talked the kid into writing his first book.

The man at the gas station who gave the kid a free cup of coffee even though he forgot his wallet at home.

The woman who married the kid. Who tutored him through eleven years of community college. Who got him his very first bloodhound. Who puts up with his aimlessness. Who lets this kid feel like he knows it all, even though you know he doesn’t.

You were the gentle voice that found the kid, long ago. The one who told him “You’re not worthless, son. You’re beautiful.”

Tonight, you’re probably reading this on your phone. And you really don’t know what you’ve done for me.

All the taps of your thumb, all the liking, the sharing, the emailing, the listening on your car stereo. Don’t you get it?

You’ve altered the course of a kid’s life. It was you who gave me the greatest blessing I ever had.

So I know I told you my last line would be: “I hope you have a merry Christmas.”

But I changed my mind. And that’s a writer’s prerogative.

Here’s my new last line:

May God bless us, every one.

98 comments

  1. Karen Greatrix - December 22, 2018 6:40 am

    Bless you and thank you. Merry Christmas and hopefully a new year full of more writing.

    Reply
  2. Sarah - December 22, 2018 6:44 am

    Fantastic.

    Reply
  3. Gale Smith - December 22, 2018 6:47 am

    God blesses us every day with another column from our favorite writer; Sean of the South….one of our very own. Merry Christmas to you and Jamie and your families, including the 4-legged younguns.

    Reply
  4. Elspeth - December 22, 2018 6:56 am

    Bless you and yours this Christmas. May you feel the love and support you have from all of us, all over the world for many years to come. You have a gift and thank goodness you use it. I look forward to sharing time with you on the beach over the New Year on a hot summers day. From a big supporter in Australia, Elspeth ?

    Reply
  5. Jim Keith - December 22, 2018 6:58 am

    You give everyone but you the credit for your ingenious writing. You need to stand up for yourself and say, ” I am the one that is making all of these people smile, and I am the one that eases the pain of so many young people who are going through some of the greatest trials and tribulations that you have experienced in your short life”. I wish I could have read your words of true wisdom when I was younger and needed some direction in my life. Don’t sell yourself short! You have a great and positive impact on thousands of people! Keep on doing what you were born to do!!!!

    Reply
  6. Tawanah Fagan Bagwell - December 22, 2018 7:00 am

    I love your writing. You will be speaking in Gadsden next month and I plan to be there! Merry Christmas!

    Reply
  7. Carol Pepper - December 22, 2018 7:02 am

    God bless you Sean Dietrich! You “bless my heart” every day!
    Merry Christmas to you and your family.

    Reply
  8. Pamela McEachern - December 22, 2018 8:17 am

    You are the gift I give myself daily when I read your blog. Thank you for the special way you make us all feel and the humanity in the way you guide us to better to one another. God Bless you and your’s.

    Peace and Love from Birmingham

    Reply
  9. Mary Burns - December 22, 2018 8:19 am

    Like! Merry Christmas!!!!

    Reply
  10. Sandi in FL. - December 22, 2018 9:30 am

    Sean, God bless you and Jamie with a marvelous Christmas! Thank-you so much for sharing your writing talent with us readers!

    Reply
  11. Marylin - December 22, 2018 10:29 am

    Merry Christmas, Sean and Jamie.❤

    Reply
  12. GaryD - December 22, 2018 10:35 am

    Merry Christmas, yall.

    Reply
  13. rantsandravescom - December 22, 2018 11:20 am

    I have fought chronicles depression for 60 yrs. while I have medications that keeps me from giving long periods when I can’t seem to drag myself out of bed because I don’t want to deal with the world outside my bedroom. Now I have found Sean of the south. It has helped me in so many ways. It brings me joy and a positive outlook. Words have power to heal and yours have helped me.
    Have a wonderful Christmas Daywith those you love. ????

    Reply
  14. Stina - December 22, 2018 11:34 am

    It’s 53am and I just woke up. Like always one of the first things I do is to make sure my email from you is there. Even just the sight of it in my inbox (because it may be hours before I actually get to read it!) starts my morning off better! Wishing you and yours all the best this holiday season and always!

    Reply
  15. Norma Norton - December 22, 2018 11:36 am

    Sean- God Bless You!

    Reply
  16. Dennis Donnell - December 22, 2018 11:53 am

    Love your stories. Merry Christmas & a Happy New Year!

    Reply
  17. Jean - December 22, 2018 11:54 am

    i think so much of you…i purchased some of your books for a dear friend for Christmas. She loves you too. God bless us everyone!

    Reply
  18. Annak - December 22, 2018 11:57 am

    Merry Christmas, Sean, to you and Jamie and Otis and Thelma. May the new year bring as many blessings to you as you have given to all of us. You are the best part of the day for many more than you will ever know. God Bless You and Yours.

    Reply
  19. Braxton - December 22, 2018 12:10 pm

    Can not start my day without coffee and Sean. Thanks for making my day “wonderful”, and Merry Christmas.

    Reply
    • Joy Johnson - December 22, 2018 4:19 pm

      Yep, coffee and Sean start the day!

      Reply
  20. besomebodyshero - December 22, 2018 12:16 pm

    I’m always blessed and affected by your writing. May God bless you and your family this Christmas Season.

    Reply
  21. MermaidGrammy - December 22, 2018 12:20 pm

    Driving from Atlanta to Mobile right after church tomorrow to spend Christmas with my failing momma and thriving three sisters. I’ll be digesting you this missive the whole trip. We will gather to celebrate the Lords birth, try very hard to avoid politics and talk about your latest. And how His light shines through your words. Merry Christmas

    Reply
  22. Margaret Cade - December 22, 2018 12:37 pm

    You’re a wonderful writer!!!! May God bless you and Jamie also. Merry Christmas from Mississippi!

    Reply
  23. Delynn Roberts - December 22, 2018 12:39 pm

    Merry Christmas Sean, May God continue to bless you & your family & pour His blessings upon y’all.

    Reply
  24. Sherry - December 22, 2018 12:49 pm

    Merry Christmas! ??

    Reply
  25. Barbara Newsome - December 22, 2018 12:54 pm

    Oh Sean! With tears in my eyes, I Thank You Every Day for your posts. May God Bless You and Jamie and Have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. ?

    Reply
  26. Heidi - December 22, 2018 1:01 pm

    We hear the bad all the time….no wonder so many are depressed, hopeless. Daily, you bring us the good. I wish everyone in the world knew about you. You’re a live angel for humanity with a red beard. God give you more blessings than you can handle. I know you’ll pass the extras on. Merry Christmas to Jamie. Thelma & Otis too. They do good works also. ❤️

    Reply
  27. Dianne Rathje - December 22, 2018 1:05 pm

    Yes, Sean, and I sincerely wish you a Merry Christmas with many, many blessings!

    Reply
  28. Mary Hinton - December 22, 2018 1:06 pm

    I just started reading your stories and i love them.

    Reply
  29. Debora Colvin - December 22, 2018 1:24 pm

    God bless us, everyone indeed! And yes, this one made me cry.

    Reply
  30. D moore - December 22, 2018 1:26 pm

    You are frequently the highlight of my day in the swirl of being tasked with helping others all day.
    I’m so glad a wonderful woman met a grown up kid, & loved him so well that he wrote and wrote and wrote. Merry Christmas Sean.

    Reply
  31. Cathi - December 22, 2018 1:27 pm

    Sean, you always put a button on my day. Your genius is that you see the the great in us all, whether it is simply potential or already fully realized. That’s a gift and one I’m so blessed to receive when I read your blog every morning. Thank you!

    Reply
  32. Connie Havard Ryland - December 22, 2018 1:34 pm

    God bless you Sean. You bring us joy; you give us something to think about; you broaden our horizons and open our hearts. Thank you for those gifts. Whatever we give to you in the way of encouragement, you give back a hundred fold. Merry Christmas.

    Reply
  33. Donald Watts - December 22, 2018 1:38 pm

    Sean, My wife and I always enjoy your perspective, your humor, your heartfelt delivery. You make us laugh and cry. You many times make our day. Thank you for your wonderful ability and “keep it coming.”

    Reply
  34. Kathy Daum - December 22, 2018 1:39 pm

    Thank you for your wonderful stories. For opening our eyes, our hearts, our minds. For helping us to show kindness and compassion. Merry Christmas.

    Reply
  35. Pete - December 22, 2018 1:40 pm

    I have been reading you’re writing every day for about three months. I would not miss it makes my day every morning. Thank you

    Reply
  36. Jones - December 22, 2018 1:41 pm

    God bless you and your family—-you bring joy to your readers. Thank you. Merry Christmas!?

    Reply
  37. Elizabeth Edens - December 22, 2018 1:43 pm

    You can change lives! Thank you for being what you are. A true gift!

    Reply
  38. BJean - December 22, 2018 1:46 pm

    Love you too Sean. You’re one of the few who see and feel people like I do. Only you take the time to do it better. ❣

    Reply
  39. Emily - December 22, 2018 1:47 pm

    Love!!! MERRY CHRISTMAS AND A HAPPY NEW YEAR????????????. I love reading your work:).

    Reply
  40. Suzi Bonifay - December 22, 2018 1:50 pm

    Thank you for sharing your gifts with us. Your teacher was right, you are a wonderful writer. Perhaps I enjoy your writing because it’s often about places I know from Pensacola to Tallahassee or little towns in SE Alabama. But mainly it’s that you write about feelings and about how we can become the positive change we want to see in the world. Thank you for being a guiding light, for making me smile and Merry Christmas back atcha.

    Reply
  41. Jo Ann - December 22, 2018 1:54 pm

    Bless you, Sean. You are just what we need.

    Reply
  42. Susie - December 22, 2018 1:56 pm

    Shaking my head, a big YES, and Merry Christmas to you and yours.

    Reply
  43. Cindy - December 22, 2018 2:00 pm

    When I go through that list in my head of all the blessings in my world, you’re on the list. Merry Christmas to you and Jamie, and keep on blessing your thankful audience.

    Reply
  44. Liz Watkins - December 22, 2018 2:08 pm

    God’s peace and Blessings to you and Jamie!
    Merry Christmas ??????????

    Reply
  45. 4Dees - December 22, 2018 2:10 pm

    And may God bless you, too, Sean!! Your columns start and bless my days…..sometimes with tears, sometimes with big smiles…..but always a blessing for the day. May you and yours have a very Blessed and Merry Christmas!

    Reply
  46. Barbara Pope - December 22, 2018 2:13 pm

    Empathy and sensitivity are gifts from God–Merry Christmas, Sean!

    Reply
  47. Pamela Verbel - December 22, 2018 2:30 pm

    Merry Christmas!!!!

    Reply
  48. Donald - December 22, 2018 2:32 pm

    Wonderful!!!!

    Reply
  49. Margarita - December 22, 2018 2:49 pm

    God has blessed us, Sean. He gave us YOU !!
    Merry Christmas! Happy Birthday, Jesus !

    Reply
  50. Edna B. - December 22, 2018 2:56 pm

    Another reader said that you need to give yourself credit for who you are. And they are right! Folks can guide you and give you support, but you are the one with the gift to tell the stories. And believe me, they are wonderful. You help us all to see the good in everyone. God Bless you Sean. You have a wonderful day, hugs, Edna B.

    Reply
  51. Jeri Blom - December 22, 2018 3:11 pm

    Reading your column is the first thing I do every morning, I read it out loud to my husband. It often get us reminiscing about things from our childhoods, especially his since he grew up poor, and had a father who was less than loving. It is good for him to talk about his childhood, and to identify with someone else, to realize he was not alone. Thank you Sean for some of our more special moments!

    Reply
  52. red1mi - December 22, 2018 3:37 pm

    Bless you, Sean, and all of your readers and influencers! And sorry if I misspelled anything … my eyes are a little blurry ever since I read about the birth of your podcast.

    Reply
  53. Gwen Monroe - December 22, 2018 3:38 pm

    Thank you Sean. I’m so glad that my son told me about you. You brighten each day. Merry Christmas to you and God bless.

    Reply
  54. Debbie Britt - December 22, 2018 4:01 pm

    Merry Christmas Sean, Jamie, and Thelma Lou!!

    Reply
  55. Roxanne - December 22, 2018 4:08 pm

    Thank you for writing the way a lot of us feel and think. Merry Christmas. I hope the girl found your podcast.

    Reply
  56. Judy - December 22, 2018 4:11 pm

    May God continue to bless you as you teach us to appreciate the small gifts in life. May God continue to bless us with you. I am thankful to God for His many blessings.

    Reply
  57. lisapatt - December 22, 2018 4:13 pm

    Merry Christmas Sean!!

    Reply
  58. Jo Henra - December 22, 2018 4:22 pm

    Your columns are full of tears and laughter! Thank you for the “pick me up” each morning! Merry Christmas and a great New Year to yiu and yours. God is faithful with His blessings each day if we will just look for them. You do look for them and point them out. Thank you.

    Reply
  59. Gordon - December 22, 2018 4:36 pm

    God bless you, Sean and have a very Merry Christmas and a happy, prosperous, fruitful,
    meaningful, glorious 2019!!!!

    Reply
  60. Dee Fritzie - December 22, 2018 4:58 pm

    You my writer friend, have made a very positive difference on what is left of an old woman who will never see 75 again. But telling the real age is not for me. You have reminded me of what I look back on without remembering the scrimping that I considered horrible at the time .You have reminded me that people are GOOD just given a chance .May God bless you too .

    Reply
  61. Shelton A. - December 22, 2018 5:09 pm

    God bless you Sean, and Merry Christmas!!!!

    Reply
  62. Melissa Claunch - December 22, 2018 5:12 pm

    I’m thankful for all those people. Because of them I can be encouraged by your kind words!

    Reply
  63. Roy Parker - December 22, 2018 5:20 pm

    Sean, I was first introduced to your columns through Alfa, where my wife works, and their company newsletter/magazine. I have been a fan and followed you ever since. I bought one of your books for my wife for Christmas, but will try to wait patiently for her to finish it so I can get my turn at it. Merry Christmas to you and Jamie, and your little dogs, too. God bless you, and wishes for a wonderful new year.

    Reply
  64. Eiizabeth - December 22, 2018 5:25 pm

    Wonderful essay.

    Reply
  65. Marilyn Cook - December 22, 2018 5:31 pm

    God bless you and Jamie and the fur babies!!!! Merry Christmas!!!

    Reply
  66. Rebecca - December 22, 2018 5:35 pm

    Thank you for being that kid in my email box that says, “hey, there are good people out there & the little things you do can make a big difference.” You ARE making a difference. Merry Christmas, Sean.

    Reply
  67. Kathy Wolfe - December 22, 2018 5:36 pm

    And you have Blessed me with your writings!!

    Reply
  68. Joy - December 22, 2018 5:38 pm

    Thank you Sean….first read your post at 5 am….the sent it to my other email address so I could forward it on to others who think you are a good writer and like to read what you write!!!! (count them there are four !!!!) You bless so many of our lives…Merry Christmas to you Jamie and your doggies….and a Happy New Year too!

    And yes, may God bless us all in the coming New Year. Especially our Country!

    Reply
  69. Dawn Byrd - December 22, 2018 5:43 pm

    You’ll never know how much your words (and your heart!) bless me every day! Your column is the first thing I read each morning, and I like to think it makes me a better person because of your influence. May God bless you, Jamie, and all the lives you continue to touch, every one!

    Reply
  70. Scott Stephens - December 22, 2018 5:54 pm

    Merry Christmas Sean. Your stories have made my life a little better this year.

    Reply
  71. Ann M Syfert - December 22, 2018 6:13 pm

    Thank you, Sean! Every single day, thank you! Merry Christmas and a very Happy New Year to you and all of yours. God bless you and keep you and us and our country. Love from Las Vegas. Ann

    Reply
  72. Marcia Dillard - December 22, 2018 6:28 pm

    This MIGHT be my favorite – but wait, I can change my mind because that’s a reader’s perogative, isn’t it? I think my favorite is the one that’s due in my Inbox tomorrow! Oh, I can’t wait! But, just know that until that one arrives, this one right here MIGHT be my favorite.
    Much love to you and yours – and May God continue to richly bless you!
    Marcia

    Reply
  73. Betty - December 22, 2018 6:37 pm

    God bless all the people who brought you to this point so we can all enjoy your writing and your writing is wonderful!!!! Merry Christmas to you & Jamie & the 4-legged family members too. We always dressed ours up in a Santa outfit & took his picture. He then sent out about 70 Christmas cards with his picture.

    Reply
  74. Linda Daughtry - December 22, 2018 7:08 pm

    YOU are our blessing!! One of the highlights of my year was hosting you and Jamie! You are both so loved!

    Reply
  75. Jane Wood - December 22, 2018 7:45 pm

    Merry Christmas and God bless.

    Reply
  76. NCDonna - December 22, 2018 7:49 pm

    Everything that they all said ^. I’m glad that you take the time to write for us all. I’m usually up when your email delivers, but I refuse to read it right then, because I love the comments from your readers added. Over the years, I’ve read books by writers who are celebrated, or books that have been all hyped up, and truthfully, a whole bunch of them have left me with a *meh*. We all know someone who is technically qualified to do something, but I’d much rather have the person who is passionate and loves what they do, and they suck you in with their enthusiasm. That’s what you do. You take a bunch of words and tell vivid stories that make us laugh or cry or just feel a little glow for having read them. So, Thank You and Merry Christmas to you and your amazing family.

    Reply
  77. David - December 22, 2018 8:03 pm

    Sean, since I heard you speak at the Princess Theater in Decatur I have followed you. You touch me with your writing. You show a love for life and the people you interact with in your life. Merry Christmas Sean

    Reply
    • June Batchelor - December 23, 2018 2:07 pm

      David I saw Sean in Decatur at Princess also. I believe his schedule shows he’s going to be in Athens at the college in Jan. I can’t remember the date but plan to go with friends and see him again.

      Reply
  78. Jo langston - December 22, 2018 8:17 pm

    You are a great writer because you have God-given talent and you share this gift with all of us. Thank you and God bless you and your family.

    Reply
  79. Amy - December 22, 2018 8:22 pm

    Merry Christmas, Sean, from an old English-writing teacher in Andalusia who either smiles or gets weepy every morning while reading your thoughts. When I heard a “voice” in my students’ writing, I always wrote a “BRAVO!” on the paper. To you this morning, I say BRAVO! and thank you—for every single day.

    Amy in Andalusia

    PS, We have met twice. I am the lady who always tells you to come to David’s Catfish House in Andalusia to find some true local color. You really should see Andalusia now. Come the week after Christmas when Springdale and the square are still in their glory of lights and the sounds we hear are the happiness of children, and friends waiting for the artificial snow to start. Merry Christmas to you and Jamie.

    Reply
  80. Marie - December 22, 2018 9:03 pm

    Yes we have been blessed….blessed by you…in many ways. Our friend…..our neighbor…..our son…..our constant.

    Reply
  81. Marilyn Lookadoo - December 22, 2018 11:14 pm

    You inspire me to be a better person – more kind to others. Thank you.

    Reply
  82. Jan - December 22, 2018 11:35 pm

    Sean, you and your amazing attitude full of hope, joy, love and gratitude are a true blessing. I am sure your precious wife is a true blessing as well since you appear to be made for each other! Wishing you both and all your many fans a very Merry and Blessed Christmas!!!!

    Reply
  83. Louise Ridley Miles - December 23, 2018 12:05 am

    Thank you. I see life in so many ways through your writing. The most blessed Merry Christmas to you, your wife and the bloodhound.

    Reply
  84. Ann Marie Bouchet - December 23, 2018 12:44 am

    You really are wonderful!!!!!!!

    Reply
  85. Patricia Gibson - December 23, 2018 1:03 am

    God bless you and your wife! Merry Christmas !!

    Reply
  86. Jack Darnell - December 23, 2018 2:14 am

    Well I’m glad you didn’t talk about your dog(s) and get that dude upset again that didn’t like dogs. So you made a good choice and didn’t go over (much) on your word count! By the way, Merry Christmas. And God bless y’all!

    Reply
  87. Annette chandler - December 23, 2018 3:07 am

    Thank you for helping us all to see good in others!

    Reply
  88. Carolyn - December 23, 2018 4:35 am

    Merry Christmas Jamie, Sean, Thel and Otis…and may God continue to bless you as you cause us to look for the best in humanity. “The Kid” is a blessing to many.

    Reply
  89. Debbie Beach - December 23, 2018 1:45 pm

    ?????? you are the best writer I’ve ever read. I read a ton and you my friend are the star on the top of the tree of life!!!!!!!!

    Reply
  90. Sue - December 23, 2018 1:47 pm

    And Merry Christmas to you! My granddaughter is studying journalism in college and she amazes me what she writes even now. I hope she will be successful like you one day.

    Reply
  91. Peggy Savage - December 23, 2018 5:20 pm

    Thank you Sean for just being you. Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. …

    Reply
  92. Joy Drewry - December 23, 2018 8:55 pm

    We love this “kid’s” writings. God bless you this holy season and all year long. I pray for you very often after reading your posts.
    Joy

    Reply
  93. Celeste Sheppard - December 24, 2018 2:37 am

    I’m so glad that those people encouraged you and so glad you never gave up. You are a real person in a sometimes very fake world. You speak the language of my ancestors. I love you Sean Dietrich and I wish you a very Merry Christmas!

    Reply
  94. Cheryl Clem - December 24, 2018 7:14 am

    Merry Christmas Sean. Thanks for writing !!!!

    Reply
  95. Jeanie Rider-Crutchfield - December 24, 2018 12:32 pm

    Merry Christmas to “the kid” and his family. Enjoy each one of the stories. Look so forward to them each morning with my first cup. Please continue to write from your heart.

    Reply
  96. Jennifer Whisenant - December 26, 2018 5:34 am

    Merry Christmas. I always go get a tissue when I read your heart messages. I was telling someone that my grandmother always had a kleenex in hand. Funny the things that pop into your mind unexpectedly⛄️

    Reply

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