Giving Thanks

I send a happy Thanksgiving to the young girl, Leah, who wrote to me this morning because her father died in the ICU last night from a heart attack.

“It’s not a very happy Thanksgiving,” she said.

Believe me, I know it’s not, sweetie. But, you see, that’s the misnomer of the common American phrase, “Happy Thanksgiving.”

“Happy Thanksgiving” doesn’t actually mean to have a happy day. Not at all. In fact, “happy Thanksgiving” is code for “I love you.” Plain and simple.

And believe me, sweetie, plenty of people are wishing you a “happy Thanksgiving.”

Likewise, I send well-wishes to the woman in south Georgia who found a box of puppies on the side of the road this morning, left for dead. And now all those puppies are wandering in her kitchen, pooping on her clean floor. Happy Thanksgiving, ma’am.

And to my friend Daniel, who was just diagnosed with Parkinson’s. This is not the holiday you had in mind, Daniel. Happy Thanksgiving.

Happy Thanksgiving to Aaron, and his mother and father and sister and wife, and daughters. I’m praying for y’all.

To Joel and Tammy, who filled my belly today with pineapple casserole, pecan pie, kindness, love, and most importantly, high-ABV homemade beer.

To Amy, for being family.

I want to wish a happy Thanksgiving to my friends, Brett and Donna, in Chunky, Mississippi, tonight. May your holiday be filled with all the wonderful things that practicing Southern Baptists enjoy. P.S: I’m sorry I mentioned beer.

I want to wish a happy Thanksgiving to my sister and her kids and husband. It’s not fair to have a family that nice looking.

To the guy who was on the side of the road today in Birmingham, asking for money. He holds a cardboard sign which reads “Homeless Vietnam vet. Anything helps.”

This man is FAR to young to have seen action in Vietnam. He looks like he’s maybe 50. Although it’s a hard 50. Still, I wish a happy Thanksgiving to him.

And I also wish a happy holiday to the motorist who stopped and gave that same homeless man an entire take-out meal from Cracker Barrel.

Happy Thanksgiving to the high-school football player who dressed up as Superman and visited the pediatric oncology wing in New York City. The kids thought he was the real deal.

Forget Santa Claus, these kids gave Superman their sincerest wishlist. One kid, I understand, asked Supes for the ultimate gift. “Can you use your superpowers to make me better, Superman?”

Niagara Falls.

Happy Thanksgiving to the 9-year-old boy in Wisconsin who went deaf last week. Nobody can explain why he went deaf. He just woke up one morning and he couldn’t hear. His parents told me he was frightened. But he is doing better now. He is already learning basic sign language. And I think this kid is incredible.

I definitely want to wish a happy Thanksgiving to Becca, Mina, Justin, and their whole family. They know why.

Happy Thanksgiving to my mother, who lives in a 28-foot fifth-wheel camper, with all her cats, and a guy who loves her, who is building her the tiny cabin of her dreams on Black Creek.

Above all, I want to wish a happy Thanksgiving to you. Reading this.

In the 10 years I’ve been writing this pedantic column, I’ve learned a lot. I’ve met some exceptional people who have blown my mind.

People who are so pure, so meek, so real, they want to remain anonymous.

I once wrote about a girl named Kiera, who saved the lives of her friends by pushing them out of the path of an oncoming SUV. She was killed in the process. Kiera was 10 years old.

I wrote about people who rescued, not one, not two, but hundreds of foster children.

People who camped out at gas stations, at random, just to fill the gas tanks of registered nurses.

Last week, I met a woman who rescues abused and disabled horses.

I was recently introduced to a country preacher who delivers groceries to shut-ins.

I shook hands with Mickey Ferguson.

And tonight, as I drink homebrew beer, and eat leftover turkey, in the wilds of Jefferson County, Alabama, I am thankful for you.

I don’t know what the following year will bring for you and me. I don’t know whether you or I will be here next year.

I don’t know whether fate will call our names. I don’t know whether you and I are strong enough to survive the rigors of this thing called life. I don’t know what the future holds.

But I know one thing. God still looks out for children and fools like me. And I know how I feel about you.

Which is why I say, Happy Thanksgiving.


  1. Barbara - November 25, 2022 7:24 am

    Thank you for your words that I read on my phone that encourage to keep on going. Blessings to you and yours.

  2. Johnny Bracey - November 25, 2022 7:44 am

    Happy Thanksgiving Sean. Recently found that I have bladder cancer and a mass that I wound up going to Emory in Atlanta on Wednesday to have their docs biopsy and decide the best treatment. We all have an expiration date, I now feel I could have done more good things in the past and I will do these things as I move on down life’s path from here on.

  3. Nazem - November 25, 2022 8:37 am

    Happy Thanksgiving to you Sean and to all readers outher. HT to sister Sammye some where in Heart of Dixie !

  4. Ann Thompson - November 25, 2022 8:49 am

    For you I am thankful. Enough said

  5. Mary - November 25, 2022 8:56 am

    I love your columns! They are real and help us stay grounded in this world that changed so much in the past 3 years! I look forward to reading your columns each day! Thank you for all the love you spread around! Mary

  6. Patty - November 25, 2022 9:36 am

    Happy Thanksgiving to you, too! 🦃 🍁 🍽️

  7. PMc - November 25, 2022 9:41 am

    God Bless us all and thank you for your words of love and humanity, I hope we all can be nicer and listen to each other.
    Peace and Love from Birmingham 🙏♥️🍂

  8. macblair1936yahoocom - November 25, 2022 10:39 am

    You are wonderful. Thanks so much for your column, I look forward to it every day.

  9. MissusMux - November 25, 2022 10:55 am

    To someone who gave new life to a blind dog who survived unthinkable abuse, someone who encourages perfect strangers, who makes readers laugh and/or cry, getting in touch with feelings, who makes us more observant of others, and blesses us daily with his talents, and to the beautiful, brilliant biscuit making woman who has been a driving force of encouragement behind him, God bless and Happy Thanksgiving.

  10. Debbie - November 25, 2022 11:04 am

    Sean, you are a precious person. Happy Thanksgiving.

  11. Chris - November 25, 2022 11:15 am

    Your comment about God watching out for fools and little children, hit home. My grandmother had many of those sayings. She said God watches out for fools, drunks, and little children. And that dogs and kids know people. Hope you and Jamie had a Happy Thanksgiving.

  12. Brenda C Lewis - November 25, 2022 11:21 am

    Happy Thanksgiving to you, your wife, and fur babies…especially Marigold. I look forward to drinking my coffee and reading your words every single morning. Blessings to you in this holiday season.

  13. Leigh Amiot - November 25, 2022 11:34 am

    Sean, you are a much needed peacemaker in a time when people too freely condemn one another for their political, social, and religious beliefs. A strong common thread highlighted is kindness and service to others, not just during the holiday season, but all year round. I look forward to the comments as much as your column; they are almost always the most civil on the Internet.

  14. Cheryl - November 25, 2022 11:35 am

    Happy Thanksgiving <3

  15. sflouden - November 25, 2022 11:57 am

    Sean I had to “catch up” on several days worth of reading your column. So many good words in those. I can almost picture the lost soul who also read them and got some nerve and vigor back into their spirit…because you took the time to write to them encouraging words. There are many people in life whom we meet but anyone who encourages others is at the top of my list and you are definitely there. Thanks so much for each installment of encouragement and humor you bring to us…we are lucky people ….us readers.

  16. Donjackson - November 25, 2022 12:00 pm

    And Happy Thanksgiving to also Sean, even if it’s a little late 🙂

  17. Jean Sherrill - November 25, 2022 12:12 pm

    I am thankful for you Sean. You start my day out every morning with your column. Funny and uplifting words that makes me thankful for life in general no matter how hard it gets sometimes. Enjoy your leftovers….yum!!

  18. Wanda Wilson - November 25, 2022 12:15 pm

    Thanks for this inspiring and caring post.

  19. Te - November 25, 2022 12:16 pm

    As someone said, dying is easy. It’s living that takes work. Only some people are so wonderful to their core, they make it look easy. That’s you, and we’re all saying Happy Thanksgiving back atcha.

  20. Nancy Davison - November 25, 2022 12:17 pm

    Beautiful way of expressing Thanksgiving. Happy Thanksgiving to you, Sean

  21. mccutchen52 - November 25, 2022 12:31 pm

    Thanks Sean, The holidays are tough on some of us but reading about the good other people do makes me feel better.

  22. Melanie - November 25, 2022 12:34 pm

    I don’t know about tomorrow, but I know Who holds my hand.

  23. Mary - November 25, 2022 12:36 pm

    Amen and Happy belated Thanksgiving to you.

  24. Susan - November 25, 2022 12:44 pm

    Thank you and happy thanksgiving to you! ❤️

  25. Dede Martin - November 25, 2022 12:52 pm

    Happy Thanksgiving Sean – I look forward to your columns each day. Thank you for what you do.

  26. Anne Arthur - November 25, 2022 12:53 pm

    I love you too, Sean. Your writing and your big, loving heart bring more joy than you can imagine.

  27. Diana - November 25, 2022 12:53 pm

    Happy Thanksgiving, Sean!

  28. Larry E. Notestine - November 25, 2022 12:57 pm

    You lift a lot of loads for a lot of people, Sean. Thanks for that.

  29. Debbie g - November 25, 2022 1:17 pm

    Happy Thanksgiving 😊 😃 Sean.

  30. mikec4193 - November 25, 2022 1:24 pm

    The family member with the person named “Mina”…that was my mothers name…I have never met anybody ever with that name before…Happy Thanksgiving Mina…

  31. Melissa Brown - November 25, 2022 1:27 pm

    We love you back !!!

  32. Jeanne - November 25, 2022 1:32 pm

    And Happy Thanksgiving to you too, Sean, the day after and the days ahead! Keep spreading hope!

  33. Trudy - November 25, 2022 2:01 pm

    Happy Thanksgiving, Sean and Jamie. And, Bob, if you are reading this, Happy Thanksgiving.

  34. Pam Williams - November 25, 2022 2:02 pm

    Happy Thanksgiving to you, Sean and Jamie! We’ve never met, but I know I love you both!

  35. Trent - November 25, 2022 2:06 pm

    Happy THANKSgiving to you Sean, Jamie and Marigold. You got put the Good in good morning!

  36. Kay - November 25, 2022 2:07 pm

    Happy Thanksgiving each and every day!!!

  37. sjhl7 - November 25, 2022 2:12 pm

    Love you, Sean. You and Jamie are very special folks. You make my day, each and every day! May God bless you and keep you both!

  38. Dawn M Monday - November 25, 2022 2:18 pm

    Happy Thanksgiving to you, Sean.

  39. Barbara Foley - November 25, 2022 2:21 pm

    As always I love your stories. I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving.

  40. Kathy Chappell - November 25, 2022 2:48 pm

    Happy Thanksgiving!!

  41. Pilgrim, Jax Fl - November 25, 2022 2:49 pm

    Why did this column gently blow dust into my eyes?
    Thank you Sean, for all you do, for the health of our hearts.

  42. Rita Munoz - November 25, 2022 3:06 pm

    Thank you, Sean!

  43. Ann Davis - November 25, 2022 3:17 pm

    A very big Happy Thanksgiving to you!!

  44. Joyce Walz - November 25, 2022 3:21 pm

    Thank you for always having the heart to help all those of us who are hurting and not able to express it!

  45. Patricia Gibson - November 25, 2022 3:34 pm

    Have a wonderful blessed day,Sean❤️🍁

  46. Phyllis Herring - November 25, 2022 3:38 pm

    Happy Thanksgiving. God has truly blessed you in your writing.

  47. Priscilla Rodgers - November 25, 2022 3:38 pm

    And Happy Thanksgiving to you too!

  48. Sybil Blanton - November 25, 2022 3:44 pm

    Sean, thank you for another wonderful heart warming article. Hope you had a Happy Thanksgiving.

  49. Suellen - November 25, 2022 3:45 pm

    Happy Thanksgiving. I’m thankful for you!

  50. Dee Thompson - November 25, 2022 3:45 pm

    Happy belated Thanksgiving. I hope y’all have plenty of delicious leftovers!
    I’ve had a really awful year. Lost my dream job last summer. Still unemployed. Tough for someone my age [over 50] to find work. Still found reasons to be grateful, and gratitude and prayer are what see me through..

  51. Genevieve Martin - November 25, 2022 3:54 pm

    no words. quiet contemplative thought…and love

  52. Diane - November 25, 2022 3:57 pm

    Happy Thanksgiving Sean! Your beautiful stories are something I’m always grateful for!

  53. Regina Vanderneut - November 25, 2022 4:03 pm


  54. Pubert Earle Bozemann - November 25, 2022 4:37 pm

    Thanks Sean… I feel better already. You’re doing the Lord’s work.

    PS Belated Happy Thanksgiving!

    Your friend


  55. Lee Henderson - November 25, 2022 4:46 pm

    Happy Thanksgiving to you and your wife Sean

  56. Elizabeth Holleman - November 25, 2022 4:56 pm

    HAPPY THANKSGIVING to you too. Your online column makes me smile every day.
    You make magic with words.

  57. David - November 25, 2022 5:08 pm

    Happy Thanksgiving Sean and I do love you like a brother! And lay off the beer! God bless you

  58. Judie Perye - November 25, 2022 5:19 pm

    And to you and yours, Sean, I wish a Happy Thanksgiving!

  59. Sandy Laster - November 25, 2022 5:36 pm

    Happy Thanksgiving to you and Jaime!

  60. Teresa Clabots - November 25, 2022 5:43 pm

    Dear Sean
    I have always had a difficult time dealing with Thanksgiving. When I was little (we were refugees) my father said we did not have anything to be happy or thankful for and tossed the turkey the church had given us out the back door. My brothers and sisters and I went behind the garage to eat the turkey with our bare hands. ( We were always hungry).
    Yesterday two of my daughters came home to put up my Xmas tree. I thought about my dad and my mom and how brave they were to come to this country since they did not speak the language and were so poor having lost everything in the war.
    I am thankful now to live in America and try to remember the good times.
    Thanks for being so inspirational

  61. Linda Moon - November 25, 2022 5:55 pm

    Mine was a Happy Thanksgiving, Sean. And tell your mother happy belated Thanksgiving…she has me at the cats and the tiny cabin. We (she and I) need to talk!

  62. Kathy - November 25, 2022 6:20 pm

    Happy Thanksgiving…because I surely love you.

  63. MAM - November 25, 2022 6:44 pm

    Happy Thanksgiving to you, Jamie and the pups, too, and don’t forget your mom. We thrive on your wonderful daily columns. And absolutely, God looks out for us. Every day!

  64. Janet - November 25, 2022 7:41 pm

    Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family as well ❤️

  65. Randall Kemp - November 25, 2022 10:22 pm

    Happy thanksgiving to Sean Dietrich, who writes my favorite column ever.

  66. Margaret H Jackson - November 25, 2022 11:57 pm

    I hope you and Jamie had the happiest of Thanksgivings.
    Your articles and fb posts are always so sweet. You have a heart that sees below the surface of a situation, and a gift to let readers see as well.
    Don’t ever change!

  67. Vince - November 26, 2022 12:34 am

    Your column wishes Happy Thanksgiving everyday. Pendantic, no. Wonderful and a joy to read, most certainly yes. Happy Thanksgiving to you, Sean.

  68. Slimpicker - November 26, 2022 3:31 am

    This would be a great time to listen to a beautiful song by the Bowling Family titled The People that God Gave You.
    Happy giving thanks to all y’all.

  69. Julia - November 26, 2022 3:33 am

    I was just thinking about your Mom last week. I’m glad she’s ok. I’m happy for her.
    Thank you Sean.

  70. Steve Winfield (lifer) - November 26, 2022 4:55 am

    Sean, I love you. I love you for being you. For having a kind heart & always championing the underdogs.
    I’d like to say that you’re one of a kind but truth be known there’s a bunch of us with kind hearts. You just have to keep your eyes open.
    I hope you & Jamie had a great Thanksgiving. Your messages made many of ours just a little better.
    Lifer Steve.

  71. Stacey Wallace - November 26, 2022 5:01 am

    Happy Thanksgiving to you, Jamie, and Marigold.

  72. nancymariedavis - November 26, 2022 4:24 pm

    i love all y’all too

  73. Sean of the South: Giving Thanks | The Trussville Tribune - November 26, 2022 4:57 pm

    […] By Sean Dietrich, Sean of the South […]

  74. Guy Reynolds - November 26, 2022 6:05 pm

    Happy Thanksgiving to you!!!!

  75. ocasey - November 26, 2022 6:11 pm

    Happy Thanksgiving

  76. Jocelyn - November 26, 2022 10:35 pm

    Happy Thanksgiving Sean. Love
    Your words. Help to Keep me

  77. Rebecca - November 27, 2022 12:20 am

    Happy Thanksgiving Sean and thank you!

  78. Mary Catherine Barks - November 27, 2022 1:50 am

    Happy Thanksgiving tou you Sean. Thank you for always making me feel there are still some really beautiful people on this earth.

  79. vickilclem - November 27, 2022 3:30 am

    Happy Thanksgiving, Sean and Jamie, and all your sweet pups. Thanks for being a bright light in this dark world.🙂

  80. Nancy Buckler - November 30, 2022 1:40 pm

    🥲♥️Happy Thanksgiving to you too, Sean. Thanks for your beautiful words.

  81. Mary Jo Prescott - December 10, 2022 5:49 pm

    Thanks for brightening up our lives with your homespun stories about real Americana!!

  82. Chuck - September 14, 2023 3:52 pm

    Just re-read this. It reminds me how much I have to be thankful for. Great column.
    — Chuck


Leave a Comment