Happy New Year

The New Year is only minutes away. The TV is on. My wife is snoring softly as I watch a perky, hip television host deliver a broadcast live from Times Square, speaking in a tone of voice not unlike a squirrel on amphetamines.

So I change the channel to see Miley Cyrus hosting a New Year’s special while wearing a strand of dental floss.

My phone rings. It’s an unrecognizable number. Maybe a spam call. I answer.


The voice is male, with a pronounced Hindi accent. “Are you Shane Deeter?”

“Not exactly.”

“Are you sure?”


Whereupon the caller informed me that he had important information about my automotive warranty. He was very adamant about this, and assured me that he could definitely assist me more effectively if he could gain access to my AmEx number.

I reminded him that this was New Year’s Eve. He replied, “That’s why this is so important, Sam.”

What a nice guy.

He was mid-speech when I hung up. Then it suddenly occurred to me that New Year’s Eve has always made me a little sad. I don’t know why, exactly. But I always choke up when people sing “Auld Lang Syne.”

What is it about this holiday that gives me the blues?

Maybe it’s the idea that time keeps moving faster. Or maybe it’s the idea that I’m getting older. Or maybe it’s the way everyone pretends to be excited about even though January 1 is no different than, say, August 23, or May 9.

But do you want to hear something bizarre? Even though, admittedly, this upcoming year scares the stew out of me, for once in my life, the New Year worries me less than it has in the past.

Probably because I know upfront that this year will be exactly like every other year. Likely, it will bring heartache, happiness, pain, and the agony of watching your football team suck.

I know, just like you do, without doubt, that I will at some point feel like manure. And at other times I will feel halfway decent. I will win some. Lose some.

But do you know what I DON’T know about this approaching year?

I don’t know what sorts of miracles will happen to me. I have no idea which preordained beautiful souls I will meet. I don’t know what kinds of amazing people will become my new friends.

Last year, for example, I had no idea what sorts of things would be in store for me. As it happened, a lot happened.

This year I adopted an abused coonhound who changed my life. This was also the year my wife and I relocated from our Florida home to Birmingham.

This was the year I met Bobby, and his wife, Miss Lynda. Bobby and Miss Lynda are the same age as my parents. They were my instant friends.

I found myself visiting their house a lot. Namely, because Bobby is a great guy, and Miss Lynda is a jewel who keeps holiday candy in little dishes and repeatedly asks, with the utmost sincerity—often during the same sentence—whether I’m hungry.

This was also the year I met one of my late father’s distant cousins, by accident, and cried when she hugged me and told me how much I looked like him.

This was the year I wrote a column about a little boy who died of kidney failure, who told me, plainly, from his hospital bed, “I am not scared of dying, because life is really just a dress rehearsal.”

This is the year I met Becca, a beautiful blind girl who plays the piano, who once said to me, “I’m thankful for all that’s happened to me, because more people are learning about God because of me.”

This year, I sat in Mount Airy, North Carolina, with my pal Lynn, and watched “Andy Griffith” under the stars.

I could have never foreseen the great things this year would bring. Which is why I believe that this coming year, no matter how challenging, will be worth it.

No, I don’t know what will happen to me. I don’t even know whether you or I will survive this year. But I do know that you and I are going to be brave enough to face it.

And even if the next 365 days aren’t the greatest of our lives, even if we suffer more than we don’t, I can promise you this much:

We are loved. We are stronger than we think. And also, at some point, we will receive an important phone call about our automotive warranty.

Happy 2023.


  1. Nell Thomas - January 1, 2023 6:55 am

    I am sure 2023 will include numerous calls everyday from those very concerned
    about your motor vehicle warranty. I get a kick out of telling them the make and model of my vehicles. Got my list going already for 2023. Wish the Dietrich family a very Happy and successful New Year.

    • PMc - January 1, 2023 8:09 am

      Thank you Sean and Jamie, a peak into your lives gives an outsider the kind of family we all want to know, and a exciting adventure we may never have gotten. All we have to do is read. Your fur-babies have been emotionally adopted by us all too. Best Wishes for the coming year and we will be anxiously waiting on the next big story…..particularly one in March! God Bless the Dietrich family 2023!
      Peace and Love from Birmingham 🙏♥️🎆

  2. 🇿🇦🇿🇦Norma Den - January 1, 2023 7:20 am

    Happy New Year, I’m with you Sean, it’s a day like any other, each day is a gift from God and we need to use it to the best we can. Life has its potholes and speed bumps, may God our Protector and strength get us over each bump along our way. Bless you abundantly for your wisdom and insight. Bless you for sharing stories none of us would likely hear. You light up my life.

  3. oldlibrariansshelf - January 1, 2023 8:09 am

    Yes, savor the good while mucking through the lousy stuff.

  4. Timarie - January 1, 2023 8:47 am

    2023 – May God hold us in the palm of his hand….

  5. Debbie g - January 1, 2023 9:11 am

    Happy New year to you and Jamie
    You are my every day blessing thanks for lifting us up to where we should be
    Love to all on this new year
    May we all live happy tracks

  6. Nazem - January 1, 2023 9:14 am

    Wish you Sean and Y’All a Happy 2023 indeed.

  7. Dolores - January 1, 2023 11:08 am

    It is a somewhat melancholy time of year. As a child it was disheartening when we put the Christmas decorations away. I still feel that way, just a little. I did so yesterday.

    The short dark days of winter don’t exactly lift the spirits. You have to search for the ways that do. It used to be looking at seed catalogs and planning a garden for me. It’s flower beds now. I love feeding the birds during wintertime, hoping they repay me by eating nuisance bugs the other half of the year.

    Television and most media feeds us stories of violence, destruction and devastation. I quit watching news over 10 years ago and am better for it. I don’t open the ones on social media either. If you have to make a New Year’s resolution I highly endorse it.

    There are plenty of good books to read whatever your preference. I like stories of real people who’ve become overcomers, probably why I enjoy your column. Those kinds of stories humble and uplift me at the same time.

    A daily inventory of your day each night is helpful, remember the good. Ask forgiveness for slips. Keep a journal or whenever something good happens, no matter how small, write it down. Fold it up and put it in a ‘blessing jar’. You can read about your wonderful year on December 31, 2023.

    The serenity prayer is helpful when when things are not so wonderful. Those things are best placed in the hands of the Almighty.

    Happy New Year

  8. Leigh Amiot - January 1, 2023 11:39 am

    Last night, my husband went to bed at 10, early for him, saying he didn’t care to see the last two hours of 2022, and “I call ‘Uncle’! Most of the year was good for us, the last three months, though, brought one major challenge after another. The mental image of tearing 2022 off the calendar and starting fresh is encouraging. I, too, look forward to meeting via your essays the “preordained beautiful souls” you encounter this year.

    An aside, not a fan of Miley, but hearing David Byrne sing was worth enduring her stiff gyrations.

  9. Sandy Law - January 1, 2023 11:40 am

    This is what I needed to read to start my year with positivity and excitement to face all the good and all tha bad and handle it all!!

    Thank you for what you do… If you are ever in Largo, Fl., would love to buy you and your lovely wife lunch….

    Sandy Law

  10. Ann - January 1, 2023 12:29 pm

    All points covered…and my warranty will/not exist….God’s blessings to you and all who follow your beautiful/ inspiring /joyful words…HAPPY NEW YEAR,

  11. Ginga Smithfield - January 1, 2023 1:05 pm

    Happy New Year!

  12. Joy Jacobs - January 1, 2023 1:09 pm

    Our 2022 wasn’t the best until November 28 when our 2nd granddaughter was born. Happy New Year, here’s hoping 2023 is better. ❤️

  13. Alan Martin - January 1, 2023 1:15 pm

    I truly wish for God’s continued blessings on you and your precious loved ones. You also are a joy to many, including me.

  14. Leigh Langdon - January 1, 2023 1:30 pm

    Hey Sean, it’s Leigh. Thank you for this post. You are always so incredibly positive. Since I found you this year, you have taken me through so much pain and suffering. When all I can do is lay in my bed and suffer, you are with me! You make me laugh, cry, and make me remember I am not alone and my suffering is not in vain.

    Thank you Sean, I am so incredibly grateful to have found you!

    Please pray for James and Cash, my *perfect sons.

    Amen and God bless,


  15. Laurel Johnson - January 1, 2023 1:36 pm

    Amen – God bless and keep you strong. Psalm 28/7 The Lord is my strength and my shield. He is our answer today, tomorrow and every day of our life.

  16. Donna from Iowa - January 1, 2023 1:39 pm

    happy New Year–keep up the inspiring writings. mchsm

  17. sheilla - January 1, 2023 1:49 pm

    Happy New Year to you! Thank you for all your wonderful words!

  18. mccutchen52 - January 1, 2023 2:08 pm

    I am hoping for a great year. I ended the year with the stomach flu but, thanks to my wife, I was on the mend when the clock struck 12. This year should be better and being a Razorback fan I know now how a cub fan felt for years but wait till next season.. WPS

  19. John Cooper - January 1, 2023 2:17 pm

    I will be forever amazed at how God works through others. Your Happy New Year column(?) has prompted me to share with a Facebook group how God can use even the seemingly weakest of us the physical expression of His grace and strength. Thank you.

  20. Peggy M. Windham - January 1, 2023 2:19 pm

    Happy New Year to you and Jaime!💜

  21. Juanita - January 1, 2023 2:27 pm

    Thank you for your words and the reminder they are that we can look back and count our blessings, and then look forward for the ones that will surely come.

  22. David - January 1, 2023 2:28 pm

    HAPPY NEW YEAR!! Although I know we could probably never be close friends I still think of you as my brother and a friend from a distance. God bless you Sean!

  23. Patricia Gibson - January 1, 2023 2:32 pm

    Happy New Year, Sean!!

  24. Kathie Drake - January 1, 2023 2:40 pm

    Happy new years all y’all. I hope you have good memories for roller coaster of 2022. Here’s to the next years ride. Let’s all hold hands and have an amazing 2023.

  25. Chasity Davis Ritter - January 1, 2023 2:59 pm

    I read your last years New Years post on my Facebook memories this morning. Then I got to read this one just now. 2022 definitely had some good things worth remembering and holding close and many things to let go of and forget as best we can. I’m not worried about 2023 either come what May. I believe the Bible says 364 times do not worry? That covers my year so I’m good. And like you said just a day or so ago..I KNOW who holds my tomorrow.

  26. Cheryl - January 1, 2023 3:04 pm

    Worth remembering daily: Appreciate everything, expect nothing.

  27. Cathy M - January 1, 2023 3:41 pm

    I know who holds my tommorrow. That
    Makes me feel at peace. Sean. You are always on my gratitude list. I also love the comments from other readers. Happy new year to you and all who are touched by your talent

  28. Carol Pilmer - January 1, 2023 3:45 pm

    Sean, you and your posts are one of the best things 2022 brought into my life….thank you for the reminder that good continues to exist and can be celebrated! Wishing You Blessings and Everything Good for You and Yours in 2023!

  29. Bkr - January 1, 2023 3:47 pm

    Very well said and very true. Wasnt it somebody named Milton who said something like “one man sees hell and another man sees heaven”. There may have even been a country song along those lines. Anyway. We all choose how to look at things -even terrible bad awful things – God is good to me all the time and it’s people like you among who others who remind me
    Of that every day. Keep
    It up!!

  30. Deborah Blount - January 1, 2023 3:51 pm

    Happy 2023!

  31. Bkr - January 1, 2023 3:52 pm

    Correction on my previous comment. Miltons quote goes like this
    The mind is its own place and, in itself can make a heaven of hell or a hell of heaven.” – John Milton.

  32. Julie - January 1, 2023 3:54 pm

    Happy New Year! The year is certainly full of new possibilities! Start if off with a bang and come visit us in Mobile for Mardi Gras! You would definitely find some stories here. And you are welcome to come to my house for a break between parades anytime. I’ll even fed you and your wife and provide you with other creature comforts! (You have to bring your wife – she will get more beads than you.)
    Think about it!

  33. Ruth - January 1, 2023 4:00 pm

    I’m grateful for this daily blessing as we see those around us and the world through your eyes. You have a gift for helping us see the extra ordinary in our everyday world. I’m also blessed by reading all the wonderful & wise comments of others. Thankful to have discovered you in 2022!

  34. Cm - January 1, 2023 4:11 pm

    Hugs for us all!

  35. Suellen - January 1, 2023 5:42 pm

    As I grow older I’m more sure that whatever life throws at me I will get through it. I’m not sure that I could get through it alone but having Jesus at my side has given me that assurance. Happy New Year to you, Sean, and to you all.

  36. Diiane - January 1, 2023 5:51 pm

    Happy New Year! May you year bring much joy, love, abundance and magical moments! 💕

  37. Jan Farris - January 1, 2023 6:23 pm

    Happy New year 2023 🎆Enjoy reading your post !! Keep on writing 😀

  38. Maggie Priestaf - January 1, 2023 6:31 pm

    Sean, thanks so much again for reminding me. Happy New Year to you and all those you love…

  39. Brenda Turner-Griffin - January 1, 2023 6:33 pm

    May you have a happy and healthy new year! You make each day of my year much better by sharing your thoughts. Words are the most important and powerful gift we can give each other and you are a loving and generous giver. I believe HE assigns us each tasks to perform during our lifetimes. Some people ignore them but others, like you, take them very seriously. Our hearts and minds are shaped and changed by the people and events of our childhoods. Some of us become people who are angry and mean but others grow into people who patch and mend their broken hearts with the glue of love, the duct tape of generosity, and the putty of compassion and then teach themselves how to share it with any and everyone who needs it! Wow, that is a very long sentence, sorry! Thank you for being you and for sharing your thoughts. I am very happy you found your soul mate and your latest fur child and that you are surrounded by people who love you. Count me as one of those and Happy Belated Birthday!

  40. Gayle Wilson - January 1, 2023 7:02 pm

    Sean, once again you put life in perspective for those of us that are part of the human race. It’s not perfect, but there are always glimmers of goodness. And phone calls about some kind of warranty that we need to respond too immediately!

  41. Sarah B Wright - January 1, 2023 7:10 pm

    I’m going to print this and read it every day in 2023. Thanks, Shane.

  42. Dwayne Barker - January 1, 2023 7:25 pm

    You are truly amazing and blessed. The way you touch my thoughts, my inner challenges and sound like my self motivating voice is uncanny but very refreshing.
    Thank you, for sharing the stories you have been blessed with!
    I saw you in Kentucky this year, simply as a guest my wife had tag along. I am so thankful for our trip, spending time together and getting to see why she is such a fan of yours.
    Again, Thank You for all that you share!!

    Oh, congratulations on the Grand Ole Opry! Going to purchase tickets and attempt to convince my wife it’s a gift for her.

  43. Cece - January 1, 2023 7:28 pm

    You make my day. Every day.

  44. Linda Moon - January 1, 2023 9:41 pm

    You are loved by me. And I’m just happy to BE. I just made a silly rhyme, but the sentiments are very sincere for this new year and beyond.

  45. Linda Moon - January 1, 2023 9:47 pm

    You are loved by me. And I’m just happy to BE. I just made a silly rhyme, but the sentiments are very sincere for this new year and beyond.

  46. Bobbe - January 1, 2023 11:39 pm

    Happy New Year Sean. You are loved too!

  47. Susan Kennedy - January 1, 2023 11:40 pm

    You really are the best and I just adore you, Jamie, and your fur babies. Happy New Year!

  48. Elizabeth Prince - January 2, 2023 12:26 am

    Thank you for your humanity and honesty in your writing as well as splashes of humor. I look forward to reading the next one.

  49. Stacey Wallace - January 2, 2023 12:49 am

    Happy New Year, Sean! Love to you, Jamie, Marigold, Otis Campbell, and Thelma Lou.

  50. Anne Arthur - January 2, 2023 1:11 am

    Happy New Year to you, Sean, and to Jamie, the dogs, and Sean’s fan crowd. Yes, we will see 2023 in all colors, but I pray and hope that the dark ones are few and the sunlight filled days are many. God is in control. Let’s trust in him.

  51. Bill Reeves - January 2, 2023 1:35 am

    I enjoy your uplifting and thought provoking story’s.

  52. Marilyn Mason - January 2, 2023 2:04 am

    Made me tear up. Happy New Year to you Sean and your beautiful wife and adopted coonhound.
    We had a very important blessing this last year I’d like to share with you. Our grandson, who is 13 now, has fully recovered from a full bone marrow transplant for a very rare disease called stat 3 gain of function. He had almost lost his life during his years 7-11 because of what this disease does to an otherwise healthy body. His mother, our daughter, was looking for a pediatric liver transplant surgeon and someone who could possibly do a heart transplant when and if he survived. We live in Oklahoma City. She reached out to Baylor University for recommendations. The rest is history. They just happened to be doing research on this rare genetic mutation and wanted to run their own tests, they tried two experimental medicines, one at a time to see if he could tolerate them. He did and this bought him a few years during which the bone marrow transplant team perfected their procedure and treatments enough to finally work on our grandson even with Covid-19 being a real concern. His sister, 14 years, wanted to be his donor and was a perfect match. This almost never happens. We spent most of 2020 in a safe apartment in Houston near Children’s Hospital. There were so many people who were praying for him and he was so brave. There are miracles and there are so many good people in this world. I have and do believe we all can make a positive difference in this world. You do, one shared experience at a time. Your ability to write so that we see and grow, laugh and cry and with you, travel this great country, is a gift. Thank you so very much.

  53. irespess - January 2, 2023 2:57 am

    May 9 is the day my darling Bobby left for heaven. You knew him Sean when you played music with him at Village Baptist years ago.

  54. Jan - January 2, 2023 5:43 am

    You give me hope and peace, two very important commodities! Thank you, Sean!

  55. Donnie - January 2, 2023 10:57 pm

    Sean, Happy 2023 to you and your wife as well. Thank you for all the tears and smiles over the past year. Look forward to more of your musings in 2023.

  56. Karen Snyder - January 3, 2023 3:22 am

    2023, as every year before it, will be, in large part, exactly what I choose to make it. If I rely on God’s promises, and fill my days with people and things that exude love and goodness, there will be little room for negativity; and, when the inevitable difficult day or bad news comes along, my coping will begin from a much better starting place. These daily offerings from you, Sean, certainly fall under the love and goodness heading for me. Happy New Year to you, Jamie, the lovable hounds, and all of your followers here. ❤️

  57. George Robert Leach - January 3, 2023 6:22 pm

    How astute this column is. This is a great way to share family problems, life joys and pains, look to the future, meeting the past and accepting what comes over the next 365. Thank you for sharing your comments with us.


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