Monday, July 31, 2006

How to write a thank you letter

I don’t know what kids learn in school these days. I have a feeling they don’t learn many useful skills any more, except maybe typing and how to operate a computer. Those are certainly good things to know how to do.

But back when I was in school, they taught us some really useful things now and again. I especially remember a unit in junior high English where we learned how to write a proper “thank you” letter. I like to write thank you notes, and I still keep in mind all the necessary elements of a good letter. Just for fun, I will review these elements with you now, and will provide many helpful examples so that you also can learn to write your own thank you letters.

1. Start with a simple opening. The word “Dear” works well in any circumstance, though you may skip that and write only the reader’s name if you so desire.

Dear Mom and Dad,

2. In the first sentence of your letter you should simply thank the reader(s) for their gift or hospitality.

Thank you for taking me and my brothers on that trip to California when I was nine.

3. In the rest of the first paragraph, you can summarize the favor or gift, discussing generally how much you enjoyed it.

It was such great fun driving all the way to California from Chicago! I’m glad we got to see so many different sights over the three weeks that we were together, and it was neat for me to get to sit in the middle of the back seat with Rich and Bill in our non-air-conditioned car in August! That kind of heat sure put everyone in a great mood, yourselves included!

4. Write several subsequent paragraphs to make up the “meat” of the letter. Discuss exactly what you liked about the gift. In cases where you were a guest of someone’s hospitality, write about some of the activities in which you participated with your host, and elaborate as to why each activity was meaningful for you.

It was such a great idea to take our old Chrysler on that trip. It was so fun when it started breaking down every ten miles as we attempted to cross the desert in New Mexico. It’s exciting to think back about how we could have died out there in the heat if that nice man with the tow truck hadn’t stopped by to give us a ride!
It was really neat that we spent the entire following week driving about ten miles and then breaking down again, delaying the trip for a day or two each breakdown. I’m sure glad there was a Motel 6 in just about every little town we came across!
I also especially enjoyed how Mom screamed at Dad, in the car, at full decibel just about every day of the trip. It was great to see you work out your marriage difficulties in front of us boys, one of whom had just gotten out of the mental hospital in time to take the trip with us! I mean, why wait until we’re adults to learn how to swear and cuss at your spouse?
Thanks also, Mom, for the night you had that huge fight with Dad and then made Rich sleep in your spot after Dad had fallen asleep. It was really smart, and not at all a boundary issue as some might say, for you to get into my bed because you were too mad at Dad to sleep next to him.

Then it was really cool when Dad woke up, saw Rich in his bed and threw a huge fit, waking all of us up. The scene you two created that night is one I will never forget! I have such fond memories of running out of the room and down the Motel 6 stairs because you were scaring me. Just think what could have happened to me if Rich hadn’t caught me and kicked me really hard, full in the stomach, to stop me from running away.
I’m really glad you didn’t apologize later and admit that anything was wrong with your behavior. Kids don’t need to hear that weak-minded kind of stuff from their parents. They need strong and decisive role models!
I was really glad when we finally made it to California so that we could stay with your brother. It was really cool, Mom, how you stayed up late every night getting drunk with him out by the pool. And those funny neighbors who used to complain every night about the noise! What a bunch of goofs! Can’t they tell when someone’s just having a good time?

5. Close with one more paragraph wherein you summarize the gift or favor, reassuring the reader of your gratitude. If you so desire, you may invite the reader to enjoy some hospitality in return, though this is certainly not mandatory.

Our family trip to California produced many memories for me, very special memories that I have enjoyed discussing with three different therapists over the years. And so today, all these years later, I just wanted to send a special note of thanks to remind you of how much I appreciated that trip, and especially about how you made me feel so safe and cared for the entire time. And please, if the two of you have any time in the near future, I wanted to invite you to go fuck yourselves.


Tenacious S said...

Wow. Thanks for the lessons. I'm not sure which one was more important, how to write a thank you note or how to avoid permanently emotionally scarring my children. Should I write you a sympathy note?

lulu said...

But emotional scars make you great party guests, because you always have good stories.

Tenacious S said...

Great stories, but you better have good insurance for all the therapy you'll need.

Jacob's Mom said...

I know you have these great stories but I had them for 14 years before she had time to mellow!! I glad you see the humor, it was lost on me for years...mean bitter, hatefilled, denial, selfindulgent, trying to even years.
You're a better person for the humor. And smarter for the therapy.

Dale said...

Dear Coaster Punchman,

I wanted to write and say thanks so much for sharing your blog with me and the rest of the world.

It's not often you see party scars worn with such aplomb. I think I've worked through several of my own issues with just this post alone and I look forward to more of your giving til it hurts posting.

When I first started reading your entries here, I didn't know what to think. Now all I can say is I'm sure I'm getting good value for my money.

Keep up the good time family reminisences along with all your other fun topics. You're a selfless son of a Mama Gin.



Coaster Punchman said...

Ten-S: It's a good idea not to scar one's children. If you do, they will do things like this to you.

Lu: Keep it up and I might do the Thanksgiving routine for you.

Sis: I may be a better person for the therapy, but I'm even better than that for the drugs. And some of them legal!

Dale: A+ for you! Please say you'll think of me every time you write a thank you note from now on.

jin said...

Dale beat me to it.
I wanted to write you a thank you letter cp!!!
*jin pouts*

Sean P. Farley said...

I think I enjoy your blog. In a pinch-my-nipples kind of way, too. And that's a GOOD thing. Of course I'm a big queer, so nipple pinching is par for the course...ANYHOW, love your blog. And if I said anything in the way of bagging on Debbie Gibson, I didn't mean it!! I swear! She was awesome, and beautiful. Mid-thirties, too. "Foolish Beat" nearly left me in tears. Okay, not tears, but I sang along. Front row, baby!

Dale said...

I like the juxtaposition of FUCK right across from your thoughtful pose Jin.

Dale said...

I also like the way Jin is pouting (thoughtfully) as though she's not allowed to write the letter now. I'm going to have to consult an etiquette book.

Coaster Punchman said...

Jin: yes, please, write me a letter! Just watch the language! Family blog!

Sean: just for the record, anyone who gets near my nipples DIES. I even hate the word. Nipple. *shudder*

Dale: both Jin & Sean appear to be pouting thoughtfully. I wonder what the connection is?

Old Lady said...

Ahh, those cross-country trips! You bring a tear to my eye as I reflect on the memories of family trek's from one duty station to another.

lulu said...

I admit, your family does have me beat for sheer fuck-upedness. The worst thing that ever happened on our car trips was my mother decided to pull the car over and leave my brother and I by the side of the road.

She pulled away and drove maybe 100 feet or so, scarred me for life.

Coaster Punchman said...

OL: you are my inspiration for touching family tales such as this.

Lu: sounds like an effective child rearing method to me! The difference between you & me is that I was always wishing to be left on the side of the road.

jin said...

Thank you dale, I think.?.

Don't you see that I can't write a thank you letter now? Even though I thought of it BEFORE I came in the comments section (Ha! That sounds shady!;-) it would look as if I was copying dale. I don't do 'copy'. I do 'original'. Unique even. Perfect always.

I do suppose, if dale had the same idea that I did, it means his mind works well. This, in turn, makes me want to check out his blog. Which I shouldn't really do now because D thinks I'm upstairs printing brochures (instead of slaving away in the pastry shoppe with him) when I'm really here on the internet at CPW.

I almost feel guilty.

Ok, ok...that was a lie!

Dale said...

Send me some cookies and I'll stop 'stealing' your ideas Jin.

jin said...

Sorry dale, haven't figured out how to do virtual cookies yet.

Mmmm.....but how about a 4 layer Chocolate cake topped with Belgian Chocolate roses?


This is cp's blog, though, so he gets first crack at the cake. You get what's left. ;-)

Dale said...

You said crack. And they don't look Belgian but I'll take your word for it, you're the expert.

Grant Miller said...

A little editing:

"TY 4 taking me and my bros on that trip 2 Kali when I was 9.

Beth said...

Letitia Baldridge is wiping away a tear right now.

wonderturtle said...

Once again CP, I curtsey to your panache. If I wanted to revisit a family trauma, I'd have said it with a tasteful fruit basket. Now I know better.

Coaster Punchman said...

GM: I have a colleague who signs all his emails "TY" and I had no idea what that meant for about 3 months.

B: Good old Tish. I hope she's crying for joy.

WT: Can't wait to hear your family traumas, though I hope there weren't many.

J & D: Get a room!!

Dale said...

I'm booking it if she's bringing the cake and the crack. TY, D

Melinda June said...

My parent used to make us play a game on roadtrips where we'd see who could make the lifesaver last the longest. And we blew eachother kisses when we crossed state lines.

I feel so inadequate.

Tenacious S said...

At least you went somewhere interesting. Every spring break we went to North Carolina to visit our grandparents and every summer we went to the same cabin in Wisconsin. While there is something to be said for stability, boredom can scar too. The worst thing that was done to me on vacation was that we could only pee at predetermined stops. There was NO stopping in between. We had schedules, you know.

lulu said...

We played a game called "Whoever is quiet the longest gets a candybar" (I am from a no candy kind of family) MY brother would then proceed to slug me in the upper-arm everytime my mother wasn't looking, until I screamed.

Good times.

Megan said...

From now on I will reflect on childhood trauma through the lens of sarcasm. It seems much more therapuetic than my usual approach of plain old whining. Nicely done.

jin said...

cp, are you whoring me out again?!!?

This time I want my share! Last time you kept ALL the $$$!!!

dale-I bring cake everywhere I'm invited. Sometimes I think that's the only reason I get asked anywhere. :-( *pout*

Dale said...

Just to prove everyone wrong, I'd let you show up without the cake. But you will bring it anyway right?

jin said...

HAHA!!! :-D Hmmmm....maybe....what do I get?

((((("WHERE ARE YOU???"))))))

Can I put in a request?
More Mama Gin stories!!! :-D

Molecular Turtle said...

Thank you letters are great. You're right CP people have long forgot the art of writing one. It's especially useful in the business world. What's an even greater gift is knowing how to write one that's full of backhanded compliments. For example "It was a really amazing the way you hid your pyschosis throught the whole trip. It probably had something to with your amazing capacity to drink and drink and drink ..."

Coaster Punchman said...

MJ: Come on, you can dig a little deeper & find some dysfunction somewhere.

Ten-S: We have our family reunion in Wisconsin next week. There is always room for new scars, and I know we will get some.

Lu: Why didn't you outsmart your brother? I know you're capable of it.

Megan: Thanks. And another trick is to find ways to whine that don't look like whining from the outset, but really are.

Jin: The check is in the mail. Sorry about that blip with Tyrone, but the scars will heal. And, I do have a Mama Gin story coming shortly.

Dale: Whose lover are you anyway?

MT: you are making me proud!

Dale said...

Since I've been pressuring Jin for cake and she's been pressuring you for Mama G., this whole thing has become unhealthy. I'm breaking up with you both.

Coaster Punchman said...


jin said...

Double Damn!

The Poor George said...

Can any of you just imagine what it must have been like to take a road trip with the Mama Gin??!!! Noooo, none of you have any idea what you are up against and I choose to spare this world of its history. However, whatever your lewd imaginings bring you, remember to raise the octave level to ear piercing levels and then translate it into Chinese!