I’m crazy about small towns. The world has gotten so big. Shopping malls are bigger. Interstates have swallowed rural routes. Small churches are disappearing. The women’s groups of my mother’s generation have become a thing of the past.

Nothing, and I mean nothing, feels as good as a hug. This month alone, I’ve spoken at a handful of places and I have received roughly—this is no exaggeration—five trillion hugs from people.

Including two hundred grade school students this morning.

Hugs do something to a person. After ten hugs, a fella starts to feel warm inside. After two hundred, his heart is raw. Right around four hundred, he forgets every evil thing he ever saw or heard. People need hugs. And by “people,” I mean me. I love a good hug.

I also love baseball. It’s a beautiful game. While I write this, I am listening to a radio. The Milwaukee Brewers are doing battle with the Dodgers. I want the Dodgers to eat mud.

And, I love football. I was born during the third quarter of Coach Bear Bryant’s farewell game. My father was watching the hospital-room television during the exact moment the doc smacked my hindparts.

I’m crazy about small towns. The world has gotten so big. Shopping malls are bigger. Interstates have swallowed rural routes. Small churches are disappearing. The women’s groups of my mother’s generation have become a thing of the past.

But not in small towns. In small towns, Little America is still alive and well.

Which reminds me: I love little things. I love them even more than I did when I started this article.

The small Chevette I learned to drive in. The small coin I bought at a gift shop atop the mountain where my father is buried—I carry it everywhere. I like little trucks from yesteryear. Little farmhouses. Little billboards painted on the sides of barns.

Little upright pianos in my aunt’s den—the kind she only plays at Christmas.

Speaking of holidays, I love them, too. Each and every one. Christmas, Turkey Day, Labor Day, and Halloween.

Last year I spent Halloween at my Uncle Geether’s house holding a bowl of candy. A boy visited my uncle’s doorstep dressed like a bloodsucking underlord. It was a grotesque outfit that made my hair stand up.

My uncle asked the boy what he was supposed to be.

“I’m the Devil,” said the kid.

“Well, I wanna shake your hand,” said my uncle. “I’m married to your sister.”

I like bodies of water. Lake Martin, Wheeler Lake, Lake Guntersville, the Choctawhatchee Bay. I need to be near water, otherwise I feel restless.

Hank Williams, Don Williams, and Willie Hugh Nelson. I like the way the sound of a guitar blends with a fiddle.

I like shoes that don’t look new. And I like the smell of leather.

I like teachers. They see the world differently than I do. Like the woman I just met, Miss Zelda. Her thirty-student class is bursting at the seams. She is a marvel to watch in action. The children worship her.

I like Reynold—a man who visits nursing homes on weekends even though he has no kinfolk there. He visits with lonely elderly women who need someone to call them “Granny” once in a while.

I like James, who drives a truck for a living. He has fourteen kids at home. Fourteen. He drives a semi because he tells me it “helps put good food on the table.”

His oldest daughter just graduated college as a speech therapist. His second oldest is about to graduate with a degree in nursing.

And my friend, Don, of Tampa, Florida. Don was just diagnosed with cancer last year. He was in treatment, and people have been worried about him. He has fought, he’s lost weight, and yesterday was his medical consultation.

A doctor told Don and his wife that he was in remission. It was a celebration.

He wrote asking if I’d write a few words about the blessings I hold dear. I’ve named a few. But not nearly enough. In fact, I haven’t even scratched the surface.

And besides, no amount of words can ever describe how good it feels to get five trillion hugs. Which is what I’m sending to you.

All at once. Give one or two away if you get a chance. Don’t do it for me.

Do it for Don.


  1. Debra Galladora - October 18, 2018 6:25 am

    My Daddy played for the Milwaukee Brewers before the Braves came to town. I was born in Milwaukee in September of 1952 because the Brewers were in the playoffs…

  2. Leslie in NC - October 18, 2018 7:52 am

    Thank you for the hug, Sean! I love hugs too and don’t get many so they’re always extra special to me when I do get one. You’d like my tiny town, Beech Mountain, NC, population 322. Lots of river and streams too for your water fix. If you’re ever up my way, give me a holler and I’ll give you the best hug! And here’s a virtual hug for Don, from one cancer survivor to another.

  3. GaryD - October 18, 2018 8:13 am

    Any story that mentions Hank Williams is gonna be a good story. This is one of your finest. Thank you!

  4. Kelly Crowl - October 18, 2018 9:31 am

    Hugs Are the Best! I have been on the receiving end of God’s blessings this week and this story was the cherry on top?. Thank you! P.S. I would also like the Dodgers to eat mud!

  5. Robert Chiles - October 18, 2018 11:27 am

    “I’m married to his sister” I had to laugh out loud at that one.

  6. Becky St. John - October 18, 2018 12:21 pm

    Thank you for the hug. Here’s one for you!

  7. Judy - October 18, 2018 12:30 pm

    I thrive on hugs. I think I just really realized that.

    I hope you are hugged many times today.

  8. Edna B. - October 18, 2018 12:32 pm

    Yep, I love hugs too. Thanks, and sending one back to you. Have a wonderful day, hugs, Edna B.

  9. Fran Pearce - October 18, 2018 12:40 pm

    Welcome to Selma, Sean!!!! Love that you got so many HUGS yesterday while you are in town. I have followed you for several months now. I cannot wait to see you tonight for Tale Tellin at the ArtsRevive Carneal Art Center. May I give you a hug?

  10. Kristine Wehrheim - October 18, 2018 12:53 pm

    Hugs to Don!

  11. Susan - October 18, 2018 1:28 pm

    I’ve always loved a good strong hug. It warms me to my soul. Thank you Sean. Hugging you today.

  12. Brenda Posey - October 18, 2018 2:18 pm

    Kindred spirits…. I’m a hugger, i ❤️ hugs and feel a hug is a caring gift. There are many different kinds of hugs and I find myself categorizing them, oftentimes based on who is doing the hugging. ? I enjoy your musings every day but this one really shines! Thank you.

  13. Patsy - October 18, 2018 2:21 pm

    I, too, am a hugger! Maybe I give them to receive one in return!? Another heartwarming article! Blessings to Don?

  14. Cathy Rixie - October 18, 2018 2:26 pm

    Your columns make me sooo homesick for my Sweet Home Alabama! While I live in Florida now, I was born in Birmingham and grew up in one of those smal towns in Alex City – I feel like Lake Martin is heaven on earth! Thank you for bringing it all to life every day!!

  15. Eddy - October 18, 2018 2:28 pm

    I laughed out loud at the devil joke, also! My sister learned to drive in the Mississippi Delta in our Mama’s standard shift, ’76, no a/c, Chevette. It was her first new car and boy did that catalytic converter stink, especially in the summer. Thanks for the hug and here’s one for you, too! We so look forward to reading you daily! Thanks Sean!

  16. LVS - October 18, 2018 2:52 pm

    I agree, hugs are a life saver from the right people!

  17. Karen - October 18, 2018 3:18 pm

    My women’s group is alive and well, but I do live in a small town. I grew up in Dallas, Atlanta, Minnesota, and Los Angeles, because of my dad being moved around with his job. Now I live in a small town in Alabama, and I woudn’t have it any other way.
    You bring back good memories of my childhood and all the things I love. My teachers had a huge influence on me, and I loved them. I loved their bulletin boards with paper letters and colored leaves, their patience, their excitement, and their smiles. Thank you, Sean, for reminding us of our blessings.

  18. Janie's Jottings - October 18, 2018 3:27 pm

    Thanks for the hugs Sean. I love small towns too. Towns like Donalsonville and Cedar Springs Georgia. I have family in both towns and Hurricane Michael tore through there destroying trees by the thousands and crops just about ready for harvesting. Here in Central Florida we know how to prepare for these monster storms. My people and their neighbors don’t know what hit them. I hope they are all getting a lot of hugs as they wait for their power to be restored. Also I know through a family member that worked with him that ole Willie is a great guy always ready to help out a friend.

  19. Marylin Anderson - October 18, 2018 3:51 pm

    Sean, we got back to El Paso last night from our 3-week road trip. It’s not a little town, but it’s home. My Mom was a hugger and helped with the four-year olds at our Baptist church. Those little ones loved Miss Ruth’s hugs and she loved their hugs too. When they grew up and came back to visit they would still look for her at church to get a hug. One sweet lady said she needed Mom’s hug at Wednesday night prayer meeting so she could make it through the week. She was loved by all. She went to Glory 14 years ago
    I bet she’s giving hugs to all her friends when they arrive at the Pearly Gates. I know I will be glad to see her one day at get mine.

    We so enjoyed your show in Boaz and the chance to meet you and Jamie. I know tonight’s show in Selma will be amazing. Those folks are in for a real treat. God bless you. Keep on telling those stories and singing those songs.

    Hugs to you and Jamie. Hope we meet again someday. ❤

  20. Brenda McLaine - October 18, 2018 3:51 pm

    Thankful for the hug and Don’s remission. My husband is having treatments for Leukemia and it’s been a year since he was diagnosed. Thankful for the time he has been spared to be with his family. Here’s a hug ((((((Sean))))) for you. Hope you have a great day.

  21. Glenda - October 18, 2018 4:40 pm

    Received a greeting card that read: All you need is one good hug, after another, love you Sean, Hugs. Glenda

  22. Shelton Armour - October 18, 2018 9:35 pm

    God bless you for this story…and God bless your friend Don who got good news in a world full of bad and also for his family and friends that he celebrates with for such good news.

  23. Mary T - October 18, 2018 10:34 pm

    My four grandchildren came to my house from Panama City Beach because of Hurricane Michael. I have had lots of hugs. They went home today. I miss them already!

  24. Jack Darnell - October 19, 2018 1:42 am

    Good title, GOOD! You ‘n me enjoy some of the same things! Lots of good folks do! NITE

  25. Pat Nichols - October 19, 2018 1:55 pm

    Thank you for being positive about hugs. I come from a long line of huggers and have kept the art alive in rural Tennessee. It always feels good for the “huggee” to respond in kind, although some will act as though they don’t know how to and will let their arms hang limply at their sides. Poor things. I just hope I get another chance at them because deep down we all need a good hug every now and then! Thanks Sean

  26. Judy - October 19, 2018 11:57 pm

    Got my “hug” Thursday night in Selma!
    Wonderful and a perfect night to be outside!

  27. Ronnie Keel - October 21, 2018 9:02 am

    Ah, Lake Guntersville, used to live in Boaz, just a hop, skip, and six pack away!!


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