Award-winning author and Parkite Joel Zuckerman shows gratitude with thank you letters
Parkite Joel Zuckerman has a lot to be grateful for, and people are at the top of his list.
Zuckerman, who has written golf books for more than 20 years, decided his new book would show his gratitude for the people who have touched his life throughout the years.
And while the project, titled “Grateful,” is a limited-run release, the award-winning author feels the public will be able to benefit from its theme of kindness and gratitude during this Thanksgiving season.
“I never had the chance to express gratitude to my parents before they passed on, and I know what it’s like to lose someone without being able to tell them how much they meant to me,” said Zuckerman, a two-time recipient of the International Network of Golf Book of the Year award. “So I want to urge people to show their thankfulness to the people they love before it’s too late.”
“Grateful” is a collection of 180 thank you letters the author wrote to friends, family members and acquaintances since 2013.
“The first letter I wrote was to a guy named Dan Shepherd, a golf-writing colleague and generous soul who had provided me with many opportunities in many different guises,” Zuckerman said.
Zuckerman was able to keep a copy of the letter, because he had typed it with his computer.
“I wrote it on a word processor, because I was writing articles for newspapers and magazines, at the time,” he said. “After I sent the letter, I felt a ripple of warmth and satisfaction that caught me off guard.”
To prolong that rush, Zuckerman wrote another letter, which led to writing another, and another.
“I would write two or even three in a week, and I eventually amassed a collection of 180 ‘Letters of Gratitude,’ or ‘L.O.Gs,’” he said. “After I got through the obvious people — old friends, family and new friends, those who did things for me — I would think of key people who meant something to me at some point and reach out to them in a very random way.”
Some of those letters started with the line, “I’m sure you are absolutely shocked to be getting a letter from me, but I wanted to tell you how important you were to me when,” according to Zuckerman.
Zuckerman cites four reasons why he writes the “L.O.G.s.”
The first is his desire to hone the craft of writing.
“Expressive writing is a forte, and a skill I feel compelled to hone regularly,” he said. “For 20-plus years I scratched that itch with books, and regular magazine, newspaper and internet assignments.”
The second reason is he knows everyone is fighting their own battles in life, especially now during the COVID-19 pandemic and uncertain times.
“It doesn’t matter who you are, even if you’re LeBron James, you are going through a battle,” Zuckerman said. “So if an unexpected, out-of-the-blue L.O.G. can provide a spark, a lift, a fleeting feeling of elation or a feel-good moment, I’ll be very satisfied.”
Thirdly Zuckerman writes thank you letters because it feels good. And lastly, he feels a sense of appreciation that needs to be acknowledged, he said.
Of the 180 letters in the book, 50 are to people Zuckerman may never see or speak to again.
“I wrote to them, simply because I wanted them to know that I was thankful for them,” he said.
Zuckerman found addresses of those he wanted to send letters to through Facebook or through mutual friends.
“I preferred asking friends for the address, so I wouldn’t spoil the surprise,” he said.
Sometimes the letters would be grateful sympathy cards.
“Most of the sympathy letters were sent to those who were losing their spouses or parents, and three or four were sent to people who were actually the ones who were dying,” Zuckerman said. “Those were hard, but thankfully I didn’t have to send a letter to someone who had lost a child.”
The largest chapter in the book are letters Zuckerman has sent to his friends and acquaintances in Park City, including the Park City Toastmasters Club, the Park City Institute and the Deer Crest Club crew.
“All of these are sent to people I’m very fond of, who may not be personal friends,” he said. “and while I may not pal around with them, I respect them.”
Zuckerman cites his father, a Russian immigrant, and mother, the daughter of Russian immigrants, for teaching him how to write thank you letters when he was a child.
“Too much is left unsaid in this world, and these letters are my way of showing affection, connection, admiration and gratitude, to the subjects at hand,” he said.
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