I just finished an informal rehearsal for our live Christmas show. The bluegrass band will be in top shape. So will the trained elephants, the trapeze act, the fire breather, and the guy juggling Broadman Hymnals. And if things work out, I might even do some clogging on camera.
No, I’m only kidding. There are no elephants. And I can’t clog, not unless I’m at my cousin’s wedding reception and the band starts playing Steppenwolf’s “Magic Carpet Ride” while I’m in line at the open bar.
It’s been a long time since we’ve done our live show. A long, long time. Almost a year now. I can hardly believe it’s been so long. Because at this time last year we were on the road. We’d done 160 shows that year, and my wife and I had crossed almost 40 U.S. states in our little plumber’s utility van. It was just what we did.
Don’t misunderstand me, ours was not a glamorous career. Many times I’d perform before crowds of four or five people who often wore malfunctioning hearing aids and kept shouting, “What’d he say?!”
Like the time my elderly uncle attended one of my performances in Tennessee, and after what I considered a great show, in the theater lobby, my uncle’s first words to me were, “I forgot my hearing aids.”
So I hugged him and laughed, and I told him “I love you.” Then, in a brief moment of sincerity, which only shows you the affection between us, he answered, “What the hell did he just say, Eulah?”
But anyway, after all that performing in different places I had become exhausted inside and out, right down to my internal organs. Cheap hotel continental breakfast food had become the affliction of my existence. I was sick of riding in vans. There were definitely downsides to life on the road, but altogether it was a blast. And it’s a shame I didn’t realize I was having the most fun of my lifetime.
Also, lest I forget, performing was my actual job.
Meaning, when the pandemic hit I lost my freaking job. I don’t want to harp on this subject because there are too many people out there who have things WAY worse than me. I have a friend, for example, who got fired from his desk job and takes gig-work delivering things, and still somehow works two part-time custodial jobs. Not to mention my cousin had his new Kia repossessed. Although, to be fair, he’s had three repossessions over the years.
But the fact was, I was suddenly unemployed. No more shows. You’re fired, kid. Bye. And unemployment messes with your self esteem.
I’ve never NOT had a job. Not since I was 14, when I started hanging drywall on a construction jobsite, where my coworkers played KC and the Sunshine Band cassettes on repeat for, literally, eight hours each day. To this day, if I hear “Shake, Shake, Shake Your Booty,” I start to break into cold sweats and fight the urge to use an orbital sander.
You don’t want to even know what happens when I hear “That’s the Way (I Like It).”
When the global pandemic slammed into Alabama like a runaway boxcar we were in Birmingham, doing our final show. Although I had no idea it would be our last one. The next night, all our gigs were cancelled until January 1, 2059.
Magic City shut down. Stores closed. Proverbial plywood hung over the windows. On our way home, we drove past mile-long supermarket lines, and saw people racing to cars with armloads of toilet paper.
A few weeks after that: riots broke out in the U.S. The mortality rate was what headlines were now about. And just when it couldn’t get any weirder, I started getting disgruntled hate mail from random readers. I’d rather deal with door-to-door evangelists than hate mail. People just seemed so mad.
Meanwhile, I spent those first months jobless, sitting in my PJs, realizing that, hey, this was for real.
Again, I’m not complaining, I’m merely saying that mental health has not been my strong suit this year. And it’s not just me suffering, but everyone. Thank heaven for this column, it’s been the only thing keeping me from taking juggling lessons.
But enough about me. I tell you these things to get back to this: I am so very, very, very grateful to have something to look forward to again. Although our humble show isn’t for a live audience, only for live cameras, it’s enough for me. Just hearing that fiddle whine again, hearing the mandolin sing; just being part of something fun, and telling my little stories to a microphone will make me feel so useful.
I think that’s what I miss the most. Usefulness. So I suppose I’m writing this because I am glad. Glad to have something to look forward to. I’m grateful for the small things I never paid attention to before. And I’m embarrassed to admit I was so flippant about them once.
But I’m not going to be like that anymore. I hereby promise myself I’m going to pay complete attention to each drop of happiness I find in this life, and hold them in my hand like chocolate covered Pecan Fiddlesticks from Priester’s. Or at the very least, like Pecan Choc-o-Mellows.
I’m not going back to the old me. We are going to put on a live Christmas show, by dog. I will play music with my friends, and I shall cherish every blessed moment that I am given upon this earth.
And if I hear the right song, I might even clog.
Mzzterry - December 3, 2020 6:31 am
That’s the way, uh huh, uh huh
I like it, uh huh, uh huh!
Clog away. We need some normalcy again!
Glad you are gonna get to perform.
Just know I stay up till after midnight every night to read your words.
Uh huh, uh huh!
Sandi. - December 3, 2020 7:10 am
Hi Sean, SO GLAD your band is scheduled to do that live Christmas show! And when you mentioned KC and the Sunshine Band, I found myself humming to the two songs you mentioned! 2021 is going to be a good year, a wonderful year. Just wait and see. Happy holidays and God’s abundant blessings to you and Jamie.
Christina - December 3, 2020 7:29 am
Cannot wait! Thanks for doing this especially after everything this year.
Sue Kass - December 3, 2020 8:22 am
Yay!!! I’m so glad to read that you’ll be doing a Christmas concert! My husband and I “discovered” you during this pandemic and love your blogs and podcasts…one of the positive things that have come of it all. After recently watching a video of you singing with your band, I thought “I sure would like to hear him sing some Christmas music”. I guess you can add Mind Reading to your list of talents. Thanks for being you and for bringing a little joy every morning.
Mary Bales - December 3, 2020 11:00 am
Your column has been a warm glow in an otherwise very dark year. I’m glad you are going to perform again, but you have definitely been “useful” to me all through this beastly pandemic. Thank you for your honesty, light, and love.
Beryl - December 3, 2020 11:11 am
Well Sean, you’ve rediscovered the joys of gratitude. Our lives are shorter than we think. It’s easy to be distracted by all the haters. It’s easy to stay mesmerized by the vortex of hate, half-truths, and conspiracy theories. Yet, the obstacles and impediments are the very paths we must take in order to evolve into the humans we are meant to become. And that my friend, is NOT easy. Oh, the rewards are resplendent with an awareness the comes from within. That light that shines forth from you with every word you write is but a tiny part of the magnificence that is Sean Dietrich. Shine on my friend, you are a beacon of light for all of us, even the haters.
Beth - December 3, 2020 11:12 am
I’d love to watch your live show. Can we buy tickets somewhere?
Ralph Turner - December 3, 2020 11:42 am
Thank you Sean for expressing my sentiments exactly. I feel better having heard that my thoughts are mirrored by at least one other human. God Bless You.
Jean - December 3, 2020 11:43 am
Right on buddy!! We are all waiting for this nightmare to be over. I love reading your column every single morning. It has made my cry…and made me laugh out loud too. You sir, are a blessing!
Melanie Clearman - December 3, 2020 12:11 pm
Your words and songs, old and new, continue to bring sunshine and hope into these uncertain times. Thank you for sharing yourself with us. You are a gift. God bless you and yours.
Bobby Hughes - December 3, 2020 12:33 pm
When is the live show and how does one tune in ?
Ella Herlihy - December 3, 2020 12:36 pm
Do a little dance. Make a little love. Get down tonight.
I saw KC a couple of years ago. The fact that he can still put on his boogie shoes is nothing only miraculous, but a testament to the anti-aging properties of polyester.
I hope I can watch your show. I can’t wait till I can see you live in Atlanta for real. Maybe in the new-fangled Braves stadium. There’s enough room in that thing for all you fans to spread out and not cough in each other. Let us know when the show is so we can all show up and you can make us smile and warm our hearts. That’s what Christmas is all about.
Cyn - December 3, 2020 12:58 pm
Thank you for reminding us to be thankful for our blessings. Most of us have so much more than many others.
MR - December 3, 2020 1:00 pm
Hold up now, Sean. You haven’t felt useful????? What are you talking about???? YOU have kept the rest of us sane with this blog ALL year. YOU have lifted our spirits and talked us off the ledge throughout this pandemic. Some days, YOU were our only source of laughter. The only thing that brought joy to our hearts or made us chuckle when we wanted to cry. Many days, your blog was only thing that kept us all from feeling numb. I personally get a jolt of dopamine every time I see ‘our friend’ on TV doing the insurance commercial. Seeing you reminds me of your words that you weave together daily that bring me hope in this upside down world. Plus, i get a kick out of knowing I have a friend who is a TV star!
Sean, YOU never lost your usefulness. Not for one second. I cling to the hope that one day, I will be able to see your live show and tell you that in person.
Linda - December 3, 2020 1:22 pm
Anne Riemer - December 3, 2020 1:28 pm
I’m echoing the questions I read above on how to see the live Christmas show? Sounds like a happy occasion and badly needed. I looked on your website and only saw info on a show from September. Can you please give us some information? Thanks so much Sean for all you do – it means a lot to me and many others. Thanks too to wonderful Jamie for being an upstanding example to me of a loving wife and best of all, a super chef!
Melanie - December 3, 2020 1:33 pm
Exciting news! Sure would love to be able to see this. Have fun!
Hought Wahl - December 3, 2020 1:36 pm
Look forward to reading your piece every morning – would love to watch your show!
Please let us know how!
David - December 3, 2020 1:38 pm
don’t let the hate mail bother you Shaun. Some folks are just mean. post is a bright spot in every day for me
Jan - December 3, 2020 1:58 pm
So happy for you, Sean! Enjoy every minute. I had the great pleasure of seeing one of your live shows. It was awesome, just like you!
Clay Bishop - December 3, 2020 2:15 pm
Please believe me, Sean – you are being anything but “useless!” You are doing a great service by helping the rest of us smile, think, and be grateful every single day – and you are being the best mental health booster ever. I wish you the very best and send you a ton of gratitude.
JoAnn McQuagge - December 3, 2020 2:22 pm
Love this!❤️ How do we see the show?
James Williams - December 3, 2020 2:23 pm
Forgive my ignorance but how would one view your Christmas concert? I would really like to see it. Thank you for your time.
Helen De Prima - December 3, 2020 2:33 pm
Sewing masks for the Indian reservations — north of 500, just an estimate — has kept me sane as well as clearing out forty years worth of quilting fabric. We do what we can.
Bkr - December 3, 2020 2:34 pm
I would give my right arm to be able to attend one of your shows again. I’ve had the privilege three times and it is time again!! Stupid covid. Please shout it to the world when you can go back to doing shows in front of people. I would go just about anywhere to attend. Not where it snows tho. Can’t do snow. So don’t go there!
Ernie Kelly - December 3, 2020 2:44 pm
You have an act, too?!? I am so grateful a friend told me, “you should read this guy’s work.” Whether or not you ever set foot or accordion on a live or virtual stage again, your messages have a purpose. They share all the great advent stuff all year long – Hope, Joy, Peace, and Love. It’s the literal definition of “gospel”: Good News. Thanks for sharing it. Blessings.
Sand8 - December 3, 2020 2:53 pm
Where do I see this??
nebraskannie - December 3, 2020 2:56 pm
I hope you get to do your show, and things go well for you in the coming years. Counting my blessings has always been my way to get through the darkest times of life. Sometimes I’m just grateful that I still am alive to complain. I’ve survived child sex abuse, rape, ptsd, both with myself and my husband, suicide of loved ones, estrangement from children, chronic depression, losses of jobs and homes, and many physical challenges. My life is better now than it ever has been. I can ALWAYS find something to complain and be fearful about, but I sometimes have to dig for that gratitude list. I think that’s what makes it so useful! It actually re-balances my brain! I’m nearing the end of my life, but I’ve found we’re never to old to learn and change if we want to. And for the life of me, I don’t know why anyone would be sending you hate mail!! This world is just crazy! And BTW, you’ve become a daily habit to read each morning. It helps me think about things and find humor in small things. You mean so much to so many!
Denny Machette Pizarro - December 3, 2020 2:57 pm
I’m with you. I have learned to be grateful for so many little things that I took for granted before. I am promising myself to remain grateful going forward, but I know I will most likely slip back into complacency if we ever get through this pandemic. I am praying that I can keep this soft and warm heart, it truly feels good to be grateful.
DiAn - December 3, 2020 3:03 pm
Sean – Every word you’ve typed here is Golden and True! Very good and important for each and all of us to hear/read. So PLEASE KEEP ON writing! You literally give me something to look forward to reading/seeing in the morning! Thank you so much. – DiAn
Karen - December 3, 2020 3:26 pm
Without this blasted Covid 19, I would NOT even know about “Sean of the South”.
And I just LOVE it. Please let us participate in the concert. I will pay money :).
Glenda Busby-Fowler Hinkle - December 3, 2020 3:52 pm
Please tell us where we can see your live Christmas program. It will MAKE my Christmas……I love your columns and your attitude toward life. We have just been notified we have been exposed to Covid. I’m 74 and hubby is 78. Scary times, awaiting results today, I show symptoms, hubby does not…….seeing your show will take away my fear for a while. And, the clogging!!! OH PLEASE let me see you clog!!!
Richard - December 3, 2020 4:05 pm
I surely need to know the link to your live (online) Christmas show. P
lease put it at the end of your next column and i’ll be sure to watch it. You’re a breath of fresh air in this choked-up covid time.
Jamie Dietrich - December 3, 2020 4:20 pm
For those inquiring about how to tune in tonight, here is a link to details:
Tina Montalbano - December 3, 2020 4:23 pm
I’ve been subscribed a couple of weeks now and I must say I’m now addicted. I SO enjoy reading your posts. They’re fun, thought-provoking, and yes, sometimes a little sad because they make me think back. And sometimes thinking back can be sad. Anyhow, I wanted to thank you for bringing some sunshine into my life. Keep up the good work.
Laura - December 3, 2020 4:36 pm
You really need to attend the Bear on the Square festival in Dahlonega GA when we can have it again. A full weekend of Appalachian music and culture including lots of bluegrass music and a story telling stage. Musicians gather in random groups around the town square and play music all day. There are even cloggers doing performances. You’d love it.
sparrowtracks - December 3, 2020 4:41 pm
Please video your band! I love bluegrass!
Rebecca Little - December 3, 2020 5:03 pm
Your words are very useful 😊
John - December 3, 2020 5:29 pm
Thank you, Sean, for being so useful — every day!
Joyce - December 3, 2020 5:29 pm
Thank you Sean for reminding me no matter how bad things get, we need to focus on being grateful for what we Do have .I read with interest news paper articles about it being wrong for the Governor to tell us to wear masks and social distance. (We are Americans/ they can’t tell us what to do.) I am glad those people were not around during WW 11 when everyone near a coastal area or war supply factory/plant had to black out their lights because we had enemy submarines advising where to drop the most successful bombs. We Americans are so spoiled, we take all that freedom for granted. Sacrifice has been excluded from our vocabulary. COVID is indeed a different kind of enemy, one that cannot be annihilated with guns or war machinery. Only with cooperation. God bless you for your daily blog. It helps me get through the day!
Linda Moon - December 3, 2020 6:37 pm
I have a Broadman Hymnal in my piano bench. I might play songs from it today, then find me some Steppenwolf to dance to, thus balancing my religious and secular behavior. I like both of them, but I prefer Heavenly things because they bring me columns from Sean of the South. I’ll be listening and dancing to your LIVE show while looking forward to actual LIVE events like those I attended at a hymnal-singing church and a book-signing event from long, long ago!
turtlekid - December 3, 2020 7:10 pm
Don’t know it can be 6:30 pm for Linda Moon. My CST watch says 1:05 pm. I have signed up for the show, put on by a Northwest Florida group. Just need to remember to tune in this evening. We have virtual Bible Study on Wed. Evenings and so far I have been able to tune in. Technology is a mixed blessing. Sometimes I like it, and other times 👿👿👿
turtlekid - December 3, 2020 7:12 pm
What time schedule are you using? It says my post was sent at 7:10. Are we in a time warp!!!
Linda white - December 3, 2020 7:46 pm
Wonderful!! Love you 12/3 story
Debbie Bankston - December 3, 2020 8:12 pm
Feels SO good to laugh! Is it just me, or does no one laugh any more?! Forget belly laughing! A thing of the past?!
Judy - December 3, 2020 8:19 pm
Where and when?????
Lynda Gayle Knight - December 3, 2020 8:28 pm
I’m just as excited as you are about your show tonight! Just like I was about seeing you in Boaz,AL. Thanks though for continuing with your emails each day! Wishing much success on your return to your audience ❣️
Mary J Kynerd - December 3, 2020 10:52 pm
You make me smile sometimes and cry sometimes but I always love your writing!!
Richard Young - December 3, 2020 11:01 pm
Go man, do your magic !
Marion Weger - December 3, 2020 11:46 pm
Chris Spencer - December 3, 2020 11:49 pm
Glad to hear you will be doing a live Christmas show. I’m guessing since you said it would not be done before an audience that hopefully we can see it online.
As I type this I am awaiting the arrival of you Christmas book, The Absolutely Worst Christmas Ever, or something like that. It is on the way from Amazon right now.
I pray that you and Jamie and all your family has a very blessed and Merry Christmas and that you are soon performing before live audiences again. I’ve seen your show once and would love to see it again.
Take care and may God bless you,
kip carter - December 4, 2020 12:35 am
Jamie, I never could get the site to take my money. I really did hope to see it
Bill - December 4, 2020 1:24 am
Many good thoughts. Looking forward to your Christmas show. Please be sure to let us know when it is on. ABC or CBS, maybe in primetime after the news. Yeah, right. Many good things for which to be thankful. There’s my family, our three sons and their families, our health, 75 and 71 and getting older. There are our friends, and of course I can’t forget my wife’s cat…notice it’s her cat. I just put up with it and the cat stays out of my way, most of the time. Don’t forget to tell us when your Christmas show will happen….Thanks again for the humor….Bill
Karen Erwin-Brown - December 4, 2020 2:20 am
enjoyed your show. No clogging, really?? I could not get the text thing to work. if you send an address I will send a donation to the boys and girls club. O Holy Night was my fav. Merry Christmas.
Charaleen Wright - December 4, 2020 5:22 am
Susan Hawkins - December 6, 2020 1:54 am
Sean, I’d love to hear/see you play music. Will your concert be on Youtube or FB?
Melanie Johnston Levy aka Mimi to 19 littles - December 10, 2020 3:08 am
I’m confused!!! Are you doing a VIRTUAL live show? Will clinically depressed people like me get to access it somehow? This pandemic has been the almost undoing of my mental health. I have 19 grandkids scattered over 5 states and frankly, FaceTime doesn’t do it for me.
So Sean, if I get to see you do a live performance it will help my heart tremendously. No pressure…
Julie - December 30, 2020 7:18 am
You nailed it, Sean! When Life gives you Lemons, you make Lemonade! Or take a Nap…no matter what, You’re a Winner‼️ Thank you for being a great inspiration, and spreading positivity❣️