You probably like getting them more than you like writing them. But formal thank-you notes are a useful exercise in gratitude. With the introduction of animated e-cards, emails and text messaging, the traditional demands of etiquette have given way to something a lot more casual - and that's if you get a "thank-you" at all. But we like the opportunity a written thank-you provides for a thoughtful outpouring of appreciation, artfully enshrined.
Dear Lodge Cast Iron Cookware company,
Thanks for making the perfect kitchen tool that not only produces the perfect steak when it's too cold to grill, but also for suggesting that I never have to wash the thing.
The golden fleece
Dear Malden Mills,
Ever since evolution unfathomably separated Homo sapiens from his/her furry pelt, mankind has been looking for ways to stay warm in winter. Sure, buffalo skins did the trick in a pinch, but they were heavy and smelly, and acquiring them involved a certain amount of personal risk. Wool's an improvement, but it's scratchy and when wet, smelly. But just when all seemed lost, along came your polar fleece. Lightweight, cheap, skin-friendly and oh-so-cozy - it's even vegan! So I give it up for the makers of polar fleece. Decked out in our bright yellow fleece jackets, purple fleece leggings, emerald green fleece gloves, sky blue fleece hats, we say to Old Man Winter, bring it on!
Dear Tim Berners-Lee et al., and, of course, Al Gore,
Thank you all for developing the Internet. Because of your collective grand visions, humankind has an electronic playground that we can warp and stretch and use as only we could do. Ignore the completely mindless sites. Never mind the availability of porn. Disregard the ability to keep even strangers up-to- date minute by minute with your thoughts and whereabouts.
No, I thank you for the ability to waste time simply by reading. It used to be that I would pick up a newspaper, read it, and I was done. Finite was finite.
Now, however, I can go from site to site to infinity and beyond, all on one topic. I can read more words on the subject of Sarah Palin's wardrobe alone than used to be contained in one daily newspaper.
So thank you for helping me lose a larger chunk of my life each year to the Internet. I am reading more these days! Although I am not necessarily more informed. In fact, some days I definitely feel more ignorant than I used to. I wonder why? Thanks to the Internet, it'll be easy for me to start the research into that. Right now.
Regards, A disgruntled, yet satisfied, customer
Sometimes a cigar....
Dear Madison Common Council,
Thank you for allowing a cigar bar to be a cigar bar. Believe it or not, some people actually choose to be in a place where they can breathe first- and secondhand smoke. Go figure.
Dear Minnesota Public Radio,
Thanks for delivering setlists of bands like Okkervil River, Luna, the Replacements and, of course, the Hold Steady to my headphones via the Internet most weekday afternoons. Could you possibly tip Wisconsin Public Radio off to the brilliant idea of creating a popular music station?
Pie in the sky
To the inventor of pumpkin pie,
I just wanted to thank you for one of the most satisfying desserts in the American cornucopia. We've come a long way since you baked up some squash, added a little milk and sugar and plopped it down in a pie shell. Now we use canned pumpkin, premade piecrusts and tubs of Cool Whip. But the result is the same: a delicious wedge of burnt-orange custard to mark yet another harvest.
Man's best friend
You know we love you. We tell you all the time. We love your sweet, furry face. Your soft, velvety ears. Your kangaroo paws. The nub where your tail should be, that wiggles back and forth.
I'm pretty sure this will be your last Thanksgiving. (I know - that's what I said last year, and the year before.) You are now nearly 17, and that's old for a dog. Real old.
When you were young, you'd run and catch the Frisbee in your teeth. You were a working dog, going to the Humane Society every day, in the Love-a-Pet program and Camp Pawprint. Think of all the kids who've petted you. All the old people you've comforted.
And then you came into our home and became a part of our lives, part of our family. You're an old girl now. You can't jump up on the bed or make it up the steps by yourself. You are so tired all the time. And yet, now and then, there is still a spring in your step.
Every day you're with us is a gift. Thanks for making us feel that.
Dear Dane County GOP,
Thanks so much for never running candidates in local elections. That makes it much easier for people to decide who to vote for! County treasurer? Democrat. County clerk? Democrat. District attorney? Gotta go Democrat!
I have to admire your strategy - why bother wasting resources on a race you think you can't win? After all, the people don't care about the issues. They don't want a serious debate about the environment, transportation, schools or court system. They don't want or need to hear opposing viewpoints. Heck, they probably don't want to do the hard work of choosing between two qualified candidates, any more than you want to do the hard work of trying to get one elected!
Democracy is so much easier if you just stick with the races you know you can win. So thanks for not challenging state Sens. Mark Miller or Fred Risser this fall. And what a relief that you didn't go after state Reps. Mark Pocan, Terese Berceau, Spencer Black, or Joe Parisi. Whew! Just imagine how much work it would have been to reach out to all those voters.
But...Nancy Mistele for Dane County executive? Seriously? Is that the best you can do? Oh well, at least it'll be entertaining!
The crowd is really into it now
Dear Dane County Area Youth Football League,
Face it, the Lambeau Leap is tired. Sure, it's a neat tradition when a touchdown-scoring Packer jumps into the stands and celebrates in the arms of his fans, but it stopped being spontaneous and unexpected years ago.
No, the Leap doesn't quite measure up to what happens on the sidelines of a fourth-grade football game when a kid whose shoulder pads make him as wide as he is tall manages to haul in a pass or jumps to his feet after making a shoestring tackle in the backfield. His (or her) teammates jump up and down, as happy as they would be if they made the play themselves. Misty-eyed dads exchange knowing glances. Moms shriek, simultaneously proud and amazed that the kid who still sometimes leaves the house with his shoes on the wrong feet could do something that cool.
So, thanks for not just stuff like that, but also the little private moments like when my son told me, in a lecturing tone, that there would be no soda consumption for him during the season, or when he turned away from the TV to explain what play his team would probably run in whatever situation the Packers were in.
Dear Mark Attanasio,
Thank you for giving Doug Melvin the go-ahead (and spending the money) to put C.C. Sabathia in a Milwaukee Brewers uniform this summer. It was a refreshing change to see the Crew scooping major-market teams for the best available player during the push for the playoffs. Even better, Sabathia was a joy to watch and actually did help get the team to the postseason - seemingly singlehandedly during the September collapse. Keep up the bold moves!
Thank you for not being too weird about food. You fed us well when we were small. Scrambled egg sandwiches. Macintosh apples. Iced oatmeal cookies. Celery stalks. Frozen spinach from those waxy boxes. Hardly anything truly processed 'cept Velveeta and Miracle Whip. "Homo" milk from the Embassy dairyman. Snack food delivered in a Charles Chips tin. Whole-wheat bread. My tween friends got a good laugh out of "Roman Meal." But the wheat was sweet and nutty, not squishy. You and your mom taught me not to be afraid to try to cook. Chop fresh vegetables. Throw a pan on the stove. Real, whole foods. The good stuff. Thanksgiving is the food holiday. To me, food means family. It's delicious. Thank you.
Dear Wisconsin State Parks,
Thank you for that sweet walk-in campsite. You know the one I mean - the one on the spit of land between the river and the slough, where the sun goes down over a perfect little patch of sandy, almost private beach. Thank you for the smooth trail in and the solitude once we get there, for protecting enough land so that cranes visit the slough, frogs croak, fish spawn.
From Amnicon Falls to Kohler-Andrae, I love you all, but special thanks for remembering that a hike in, even a short one - away from cars and parking lots and other people - is a great way to camp. Thank you for allowing us to fall asleep under the millions of stars and wake to a pristine new day.
Bring me some water
Thank you ever so much for providing my family, friends, neighbors and me with the abundance of fresh water we enjoy. I often take you for granted, but am most mindful of your generosity every time I savor deep draughts from a tall glass of cold, clear water out of the tap on a sweltering summer afternoon.
I'm also indebted to you for the way your waters brew my coffee in the morning. Your facility with orange-juice concentrate is likewise nonpareil. And don't get me started on your ability to turn from liquid to solid in the freezer. Man, that is some crazy magic.
How can we miss you if you never go away?
The Honorable Earl C. Michener
Notwithstanding the fact that you died in 1957, a word of thanks.
Now, yours is not a congressional career that lingers in the collective memory. One of your biggest claims to fame is that, late in his life, another Republican congressman from Michigan, Gerald R. Ford, hailed you as a mentor. When it comes to dynamism, that's a little like being hailed as the mentor to Hootie & the Blowfish.
But here's why I thank you. In 1947, with Republicans newly in control of the House and Senate, you prepared what eventually would be the 22nd Amendment to the Constitution. It was approved by both chambers, and in 1951 it became law when Nevada's legislature ratified it. The amendment limits presidents to two elected terms.
Let me say it again: The amendment limits presidents to two elected terms. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.
Yours in gratitude, Kenneth
Democracy in action
I want to thank you all so much for going out and voting. I really appreciate that some of you waited in line for hours to make sure your voice was heard. That was pretty cool - you could have seen the line and walked away, but you didn't!
It was amazing to wake up the day after the election and have a feeling of hope and optimism. I know there is a long road ahead for all of us, but this is an awesome head start! I look forward in sharing some great times in 2009.
Write your own thank-you note right here! Click "Comments" on this story, and let loose your gratitude.