And if you ask me, the holidays can’t get here quick enough.

It’s eight days until Thanksgiving. The neighbor’s house is buzzing. There are vehicles lining the street. Minivans, trucks, SUVs, Fords, Kias.

My neighbor’s family is in town to celebrate an early holiday. His grandchildren just arrived from Georgia. They’re playing in the front yard. I overhear them screaming, “TAG! YOU’RE IT!”








Just yesterday, a cantankerous elderly man up the street asked if I would help hang his Christmas lights. I reminded him that it’s too early. He insisted. So, I pointed out that I’ve had two back-surgeries, one tonsillectomy, and I’m Southern Baptist.

He is Pentecostal and doesn’t believe in tonsillectomies.

It took three hours on a ladder to hang those god-forsaken lights. He stood below and preached my ear off for the entire time.

When we were through, I was sweating. He opened a garage refrigerator and asked if I wanted an ice-cold chocolate milk.

“That depends,” I said. “Is it manufactured by the Anheuser-Busch Company?”

Some Pentecostals can’t take a joke.

“Chocolate milk will be fine,” I remarked.

Christmas comes earlier each year. It wasn’t but a few weeks ago that children in pirate costumes were at my front door, panhandling for candy. Now it’s Christmas lights in November.

And if you ask me, the holidays can’t get here quick enough.

My wife has already started cooking to get a jumpstart on Thanksgiving. She’s practicing. Our little home is alive with aroma. It smells like cornbread dressing, allspice, and sweet potato pie.

There are candied pecans on the counter—fresh from the baking sheet. My wife will brain any man who ventures near them. This I know from the trial-and-error approach.

A ham is in the oven. And a poundcake is in the immediate vicinity. I sampled both without permission this morning and got neutered with a melon baller.

She also made cheese-straws, lemon squares, chocolate chip cookies, peanut brittle, and peppermint bark.

And before bed tonight, she will boil a bushel of peanuts. She will place them on the stove before we turn the lights out.

Her boil-pot is the size of a Lincoln Continental. I love her so much it makes my eyes blur.

The truth is, I used to hate holidays. They made me remember how lonely I was. They made me feel like an orphan. But I don’t feel that way anymore. Instead, I feel lucky. Lucky and grateful.

Anyway, you ought to see this November sunset. The sky is dreary, the air is a crisp fifty-eight, and I can see twinkling lights in the distance, belonging to a Pentecostal.

My neighbor’s grandchildren are done playing with him. My neighbor’s adult son is my age, he walks off the porch. He hugs his dad. The two grown men embrace for awhile.

“I love you, Dad,” says the son.

“Love you, son.”

I won’t lie. Sometimes, I wish I had a father to hug for the holidays. But I don’t. So if you happen to have one, you ought to hug him so hard you hear his bones pop. And I mean soon.

If you don’t have a father.

Find me. I could always use a good hug.


  1. Susan Gregory - November 20, 2019 6:23 am

    Sweet! I miss my dad! He passed away almost 20 years ago now but sometimes
    Still feels like yesterday!

  2. Karen - November 20, 2019 6:30 am

    Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. I love the aromas that fill the house while everyone gathers in anticipation. I miss my daddy, too.

  3. grantburris - November 20, 2019 6:31 am

    That one was real good, Sean. I liked it. Here’s a big email hug. Each of your posts is like a hug to me. Happy Thanksgiving.

  4. sparkerlpc - November 20, 2019 6:43 am

    My folks are gone too, Sean. So, with Jamie’s permission, here’s a big hug from way over here in Texas!
    Oww…..leggo, Sean! My shoulder!!!
    Happy Thanksgiving to you both!

  5. Sandi. - November 20, 2019 6:46 am

    Sending a few dozen (((HUGS))) with your name on them, Sean! Have a blessed Thanksgiving next week, and enjoy Jamie’s delicious cooking and baking.

  6. Diana Sarafin - November 20, 2019 6:50 am

    “A ham is in the oven. And a poundcake is in the immediate vicinity. I sampled both without permission this morning and got neutered with a melon baller.” I laughed so hard Sean. Thank YOU for another touching narrative. Happy Thanksgiving.

  7. Sandee Moore - November 20, 2019 9:03 am

    You make my morning every morning when I get up and read your story. Heart warming, Happy Thanksgiving!!

  8. William L Duke - November 20, 2019 9:49 am


  9. Steve - November 20, 2019 10:01 am

    I’m a terminal cancer patient. In just a couple weeks I’ll make three years. I hope I will make 3/12, then 4. I can attest to the power of hugs. I’ve received tons of them. And a whole lot of “I love you” spoken as well. The last three years have been some of the best of my life. I have a father; two of them actually. The earthly one is 85 – sharp as a tack and does yoga on Fridays. I know how lucky I am to still have one living. He loves me, and says so often. Siblings and friends hug me often, and hard. So do Chemo nurses, they hug like no other. My Heavenly Father loves me – 3 years and I don’t even look sick! Seven surgeries and 43 three day long rounds of chemo. That’s about 120 days in those infusion chairs. I’ve been blessed beyond compare. Truly blessed. Biggest lesson; you don’t need cancer to hug and hug often. You can say “I love you”, and should. Sean was hysterical today, but his message was clear. Without hugs, or a father, he felt lonely. He longed for that father son moment. If you have children, even if they’re 53, hug them often, and tell them you love them.

  10. Sharon - November 20, 2019 10:14 am

    Dang it Sean. Laugh and cry in the same column. Your father loved you and you knew it. You were blessed.
    Anyway, here is a big hug from me.

  11. Meredith Smith - November 20, 2019 10:25 am

    Dear Sean,
    Wherever you are, 🤗🤗🤗🤗, and that’s the truth.
    ~ Meredith

  12. Sharon Lawson - November 20, 2019 10:55 am

    I didn’t see that last line coming. It hit to the heart of the column.

  13. Pecos Kate - November 20, 2019 11:25 am

    Hugs and laughter are like medicine. And your column is inspirational and good for the soul.

  14. Jean - November 20, 2019 11:27 am

    If I could find you….I would certainly hug you!

  15. Ann - November 20, 2019 12:03 pm

    Holidays are a time of mixed feelings and hugs do soooo much. Our adult son is a hugger…a good one and he hugs his Dad ( my husband) as often as he can….he hugs others too, with meaning, and YOU would know if he hugged you….so if you are ever near him……❤️❤️🤗🤗

  16. Helen Lowery Ramsey Carlsten - November 20, 2019 12:23 pm

    I love your writing but this one is “fantabulous”

  17. Jo Ann - November 20, 2019 12:57 pm

    Consider yourself hugged, Sean. ( the older I get, the more I appreciate sincere hugs)

  18. Ala Red Clay Girl - November 20, 2019 1:12 pm

    Perfect reminder for us to hug instead of squabble with family while together at Thanksgiving. Hugs to you!

  19. Shelton A. - November 20, 2019 1:31 pm

    You’ll have to do, I guess. One huge hug from a long way off. Hey the panhandle is quite the haul from Jax. God bless and imagine hugging your dad…I do and it helps a little.

  20. Dianne - November 20, 2019 1:41 pm

    My husband is known “far and wide” as “The Hugger”. He simply believes that everyone “needs a hug”, and he is so right. If you’ve had a bad day, nothing like a hug to make you forget the bad day. If you’re feeling unloved or insecure, nothing like a good hug to reassure you. If you’re feeling all alone in this world, there’s nothing like a good hug to dispel that loneliness. Hugs are so important to all of us.

  21. Alan - November 20, 2019 1:52 pm

    Oh man. You got me this morning. Didn’t see the dad thing coming. Lost my dad way too young I miss him dearly.

  22. Connie Havard Ryland - November 20, 2019 2:32 pm

    Dang it Sean. I have to stop reading your column at work. People always ask why my eyes are leaking. You can only claim allergies so many times. My dads been gone 15 years and I don’t miss him. He was a horrible human being. The man who was more dad to me than anyone else has been gone 6 years and I miss him all the time. My mom is gone too now, so the family that can gathers at my house for Thanksgiving. I will never be able to match Thanksgiving at Mom’s, but there will he enough food for an army and lots of kids playing in the yard and tons of laughing. Wishing you and Jamie and your extended family a lovely holiday with lots of hugs. I send you a virtual one every day. Love and hugs from small town Alabama.

  23. Edna B. - November 20, 2019 2:40 pm

    Here’s a big hug from me. In my family, we are huggers. You have a wonderful day, hugs, Edna B.

  24. Linda Moon - November 20, 2019 4:13 pm

    I’ll find you somewhere, Sean. I’ll give you a hug and you can give me one of those “squeeze-tastic” hugs you often give. I’ll always be grateful that you led me to find my daddy over there in Talladega. So,today this virtual bone-popping hug of gratitude is just for you! And…..I’m lucky enough to have a daughter-in-law who cooks like Jamie every THANKSGIVING!

  25. Pat - November 20, 2019 5:16 pm

    I so agree Steve. I remember as a child, my maternal grandmother hugged everyone when they walked in her door and when they walked out her door, and I always wished I was old enough to hug everybody! Guess I thought I had to be a certain age! But finally I got old enough and I love to hug! Also wanted to say I saw a friend recently whom I had worked with many years ago. I knew she had cancer long ago, but she told me she has lived with cancer for 31 years. Amazing! My prayers for you Steve! Hugs also!

  26. Linda Moon - November 20, 2019 5:52 pm

    TO STEVE: I’ve been a cancer patient since 2005, I’m always learning to live life in a different way for JOY in each and every moment, even when it’s hard. Yep, those infusion room nurses and the patients there always LOVE on each other!!

  27. Dawn Bratcher - November 20, 2019 6:15 pm

    Beautiful….I have had some wonderful Thanksgiving at my Mom’s & other relative’s houses. I thought one day it would be my turn to have my grown children & their families to come & feast with us; but things just haven’t worked out that way – for one reason or another. The path to true happiness is to love everyone God brings your way. That helps keep the sadness of not having your children around you because they can’t come.
    Happy Thanksgiving, Sean & Jamie!
    Yours sounds fantastic & mine will be too!
    Love you. ❤

  28. Susan I Gleadow - November 20, 2019 7:24 pm

    I will be right down! This is the ninth year without my Dad, I am blessed and grateful to have a wonderful father-in-law that is 74 years young. I have had an early Christmas bug this year too! Happy Thanksgiving Sean!

  29. Maxine - November 20, 2019 7:46 pm

    My dad has been gone 34 years and all of those years before were huggless years. That changed about 3 years before he died and we both knew what we had been missing.
    I am an older than you widow and now I miss my husbands hugs every day.
    I’m on my way with a hug we can share, Sean.

  30. Martha Black - November 20, 2019 8:49 pm

    Oh honey, I wish I could give you a hug. I’ll just have to send it to you over the miles through the breeze.
    Thanks for helping your Pentecostal neighbor. You can be sure he’ll ask the Lord to bless you richly. We Pentecostal “with” a sense of humor just appreciate those without & collect the blessings they ask for on our behalf & we are grateful when they sometimes just give up & let laughter take over cause we asked God to send them joy.
    Happy Thanksgiving & Gobble Gobble!

  31. Maxine - November 20, 2019 9:39 pm

    Sean here is your hug for today, wrapped in an air bubble of love from me to you.
    Hugs are the best for easing heartache and showing love one to another.

  32. Jan - November 20, 2019 11:02 pm

    I don’t even know what to say. You and Jamie are family and y’all are loved. Happy Thanksgiving and you are one of the blessings for which we are most grateful. ❤️❤️❤️

  33. Martha Young - November 20, 2019 11:18 pm

    Here’s a great big bear hug from Louisiana !!!

  34. jack - November 21, 2019 2:57 am

    Thanks for inviting me to your street. Oh, and on dad’s. I had mine a long time, about 30 yrs, I was about 36 when he passed. He was a Penny Costal Preacher, and he did have a sense of humor. But I never appreciated him enough, I realized that when he passed away, I was in GITMO. 🙁

    But I did ejoy the visit to your street.
    Sherry & jack leaving NC in two dys!

  35. Camille - November 21, 2019 8:45 pm


  36. Chasity Davis Ritter (Freddie’s Daughter) - November 21, 2019 10:45 pm

    Sure wish I COULD give you a hug, Sean. It’s my second thanksgiving without my Dad but let me tell ya I felt him with me all day today so I know he’s still there. Your blog today made me smile with the memories, though, and look forward to the new ones I’ll make. My Dad may not be physically present anymore but he will always be close by…. (((hugs)))

  37. Carol - November 22, 2019 11:52 pm

    Your street reminds me of when my children were little and times when we went to Mass. to visit for Christmas, with the lights bright on the houses and the snow!
    Now I’m the old one and everyone is gone but me , even the children’s daddy. I hope I can bring back good memories to them , until I’m a memory!
    Love ya !

    P.S A big hug from a old grandma ❤️

  38. Sherry Rix - December 16, 2019 4:50 am

    This year’s been a tough one for me. I’ve lost my husband of 32 years to heart disease , my baby sister to pancreatic cancer, and my sister in law to heart disease. I need a lot of hugs too

  39. Mary Berryman - December 16, 2019 4:52 am

    That one brought tears to my eyes, Sean, because I don’t have a daddy to hug. And because my sons don’t have a daddy to hug, either. My daddy died young at 67 from heart failure and my husband died younger at 59 from cancer.
    I DID get a hug from YOU this past August at an event in Shelby County, AL. And discussed pound cake with your wife, Jamie.
    I thank you from the bottom of my heart.
    Sometimes you just need a hug.

  40. Steve Winfield - December 16, 2019 6:00 am

    Sept. 16 1998. I was holding dads hand when he took his last breath. I refused to look inside another casket until my brother passed last Feb.
    He raised my brother & I alone. One hell of a man. Drove a gas truck for Chevron 39 years accident free. 2nd in the history of the company to do so.
    He loved his boys.
    You better believe his boys loved him.
    It would have been nice to have a mom too but dad handled it. We were fine.
    I’m sorry things turned out bad for you.
    I love you.

  41. Gigi - December 16, 2019 2:03 pm

    My dad passed away at 88 years old, last July. He was strong and active until the end and could still give the best hug a daughter could wish for~one of those protective, “l love you forever” ones. I miss a “daddy hug” like you wouldn’t believe.

  42. Eleanor Rittenour - December 16, 2019 4:36 pm

    Prayers for years more of great days that include lots of loving hugs & caring wishes!


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