My cousin’s daughter is making a list of things she’s grateful for. It’s a Thanksgiving-themed assignment for school. She asked for my help. And when a kid asks you for help, it makes you feel eleven feet tall.

“It would be an honor,” I said. “Thanks for asking me.”

“You’re welcome.”

“What made you choose me?”

“Well, I was thinking maybe you could write my list while I ride bikes with my friends.”

“Wait a second. Aren’t you gonna do any work?”

“Of course,” she explained. “I’ll be your editor. Now get busy.”


Well, I don’t mind naming items for which I am grateful. I will start by writing that I am grateful for cold weather.

Admittedly, I don’t love the weather itself, but I enjoy what the cold represents. It means November is here, it means the holidays are close, it means I have to put on my winter coat to use the toilet in my trailer home.

Gratefulness item number two: cinnamon brooms in the supermarket. Man I love these things. I could sniff them for hours in the grocery store.

I am grateful for sweet potato pies, and Butterball turkeys that are deep fried by men who wear overalls. And for squash casserole, green bean casserole, cheese potato casserole, hash brown casserole, collards, and cornbread dressing.

Reruns of the Andy Griffith Show. My late father’s Case pocket knife. And good music.

The is the time of year when radio stations play the old stuff. Nat King Cole, Dean Martin, Bing Crosby, Old Blue Eyes, and Alvin and the Chipmunks.

I am grateful for the way dogs wake you up in the morning. And for Hallmark Channel movies. Especially the cheesy movies that are about as clever as a scoop of ham salad.

The plots all go something like this:

Beautiful young business woman from big city visits her hometown after twenty years and falls in love with a handsome flannel-shirt-wearing widower and former country-music singer who owns a golden retriever named Max and is trying to save his town from bankruptcy by opening a Christmas bakery with his lovable but prediabetic grandpa, George. Boy gets girl. They kiss. The end. I could watch these movies until April.

I also love cast iron cookware, old coffee cans of bacon grease, the taste of pepper gravy, Conecuh sausage, gaudy socks, and the aroma of truck exhaust on a cold morning.

I am grateful for the way my wife looks when she’s sleeping. Her face relaxes, and she snores gently with her mouth open.

In moments like that, I like to see how many cocktail peanuts I can carefully place into her open mouth without waking her. My all-time record is nineteen. When she awoke, she spit out the peanuts, and tried to gut me with a set of car keys.

I am thankful for the way the sun comes out and warms the world when we need it most. The sun is poking through the clouds while I write this. And it’s enough to make you stop and stare.

My cousin’s daughter is still riding bikes with friends, laughing. She breezes into the driveway, then slams her brakes. She is out of breath, rosy cheeked, and alive with childhood. An entire lifetime is ahead of her, and she doesn’t even know it.

I was her age once. I was happy, like her. And I believed in things. Big things. But then life happened. Our family fell on hard times, I lost myself. The details don’t matter because my story is your story.

Life is hard. Sooner or later, everyone learns this. It’s no revelation. Life is unfair, unforgiving, indifferent, and out to kill you—at least that’s what some people believe.

But I don’t believe that.

Not that it matters what I think, but if you ask me, life is artwork, hanging on a museum wall. Not a single stroke of paint is out of place. It’s magnificent. And I hope one day to see this painting from the Other Side. Maybe then, I’ll see how good things, bad things, and the sad things join to make a breathtaking portrait.

And how everything matters. Both the great, and the minuscule. From cinnamon brooms, to the hours spent in a hospital waiting room. Neighborhood cats, cheesy movies, and the way my mother hugs me and refuses to let go before I do.

“Are you done with my list?” my cousin’s daughter says.

“Yeah, I’m done.”

“Hey!” she says, inspecting my work. “You misspelled ‘cinnamon.’ I thought you were supposed to be a freakin’ writer, man.”



  1. Pamela McEachern - November 16, 2018 7:36 am

    I think you put all that beautifully, I love the first morning you wake up and the windows look frosty… Jamie is plotting to get you back, lol.

    Peace and Love from Birmingham

  2. Nancy Rogers - November 16, 2018 10:21 am

    I think this is your best one yet Sean. Thank you.

    • Dru - November 18, 2018 2:34 am

      I second that, Sean. Thanks.

  3. Brenda - November 16, 2018 10:25 am

    Thank you, for helping me see the good in life.

  4. Kelly - November 16, 2018 10:43 am

    I unashamedly love Hallmark movies too! The cheesier the better! I am very thankful this morning myself. God answered a prayer and I am blessed. Thank you for your stories every day. ?

  5. Linda - November 16, 2018 10:50 am

    I read once where your life is like a tapestry….beautiful to look at from one side and on the other a mess of different colored threads going this way and that… here seems that way sometimes – the other side of the tapestry – but in the end when we are on the “Other Side “ we will be able to see it in all of its beauty.
    When I look at my four grandchildren I glimpse the beautiful side and know I am blessed….
    I am thankful for you Sean and all that you write….

  6. Cathi - November 16, 2018 1:06 pm

    Sean, trust me, you ARE a freakin’ writer. And as always, I’m grinnin’ from ear to ear.

  7. Karen - November 16, 2018 2:03 pm

    This is so beautiful. I love the aromas of Thanksgiving. For me, oranges are the scent of Christmas. My father always bought bags of oranges during the holidays, and he loved them. He also would burn a small piece of the Christmas tree in the fireplace, and our house would be filled with the smell of the Douglas Fir.
    Thank you for your lovely stories.

  8. Becky - November 16, 2018 2:09 pm

    Thank you, Sean, for this post, especially for the paragraph beginning with, ‘Not that it matters’. I hope to keep that thought in my head and heart today. Lord knows, maybe it will counterbalance all the negative things I will hear and read today. God Bless!

  9. Connie Havard Ryland - November 16, 2018 2:16 pm

    Amen and amen. Love you Sean.

  10. Jack Darnell - November 16, 2018 2:23 pm

    Before we moved to FLorida my favorite smell at Christmas was citrus in the church treat bags. Now that we are here, I still love it but it is common down here. But, i guess we like the same things except the p-nuts in wife’s mouth, I would never be that brave. She would ignore car keys and go to the gun rack! just sayin’ son, you live dangerously!!!

  11. Sara - November 16, 2018 2:28 pm

    It’s Heaven, Sean. God let’s us experience Heaven on earth. Gatherings with friends and family; cornbread dressing; Aunt Ellies cranberry salad; mistletoe; great music; and my favorite “Its a wonderful Life.” Much to be grateful for this year!

  12. Liz Watkins - November 16, 2018 3:32 pm

    Love this?????

  13. Shelton Armour - November 16, 2018 4:31 pm

    Editors should try writing every now and then. Putting peanuts in your sleeping wife’s mouth is a good way to end up singing in the boys choir again. You live dangerously, Sean. Thanks for a great list.

  14. rantsandravescom - November 16, 2018 4:41 pm

    I am thankful for Sean of the South. It reminds of the good and positive things of life. There is more bad news than i really want to hear ever day. It’s nice to wake up to the good every morning. I am thankful for the smells of all the foods of Thanksgiving, especially the oyster dressing. For seeing my sister and her family. And all the many things you wrote about. Thank you for reminding me.

  15. Edna B. - November 16, 2018 4:43 pm

    Your list of “thankfuls” is awesome. Very much like mine. Every morning I wake up is a gift that I am thankful for. You have a wonderful day Sean. Hugs, Edna B.

  16. Janet Mary Lee - November 16, 2018 6:38 pm

    Today you just made me smile!! Thankful for you!!! I have a long list too!

  17. Patricia Gibson - November 17, 2018 12:32 am

    We must be related!

  18. Rebecca - November 17, 2018 12:33 am

    No No No with the peanuts! She could wake with a gasp and choke! How about kisses instead?

    • Pamela McEachern - November 17, 2018 3:21 am

      Rebecca my thoughts too ?

  19. Charlie Leikauf - November 17, 2018 3:29 pm

    Sean, this was great! And how about posting your wife’s cornbread stuffing. My wife is looking for a different approach to cornbread dressing this year.

  20. Robert Chiles - November 20, 2018 2:15 am

    When Thanksgiving and Christmas roll around, I’m grateful for oyster pie.


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