Source: Creative Commons

Source: Creative Commons

Maybe your dad already has enough ties, grilling utensils, and sports paraphernalia. Maybe you’re tired of giving a standard Father’s Day card with money. Or perhaps you just want to give him something unique and meaningful this year. If any of these scenarios resonate with you, then consider giving dad something new: a tribute letter. Simply put, it’s a written document that relates your memories of him and why he’s important to you.

It doesn’t have to be sappy and sentimental (although it can be, if that’s what you desire). It can be humorous or matter-of-fact; let your personality shine through. It can span your entire lifetime and be chronological, or it can relate a select few memories in random order. And it doesn’t have to be professionally printed and framed. Just the fact that you’ve taken the time to record some of your favorite memories will mean a lot to your father.

Begin by jotting down some of your favorite memories of your time together, whether as a child or an adult – or both.

  • What has he done that has meant the most to you?
  • How has he supported you?
  • What has he taught you?
  • What’s something that perhaps he’s forgotten all about, or some small gesture that he might have considered insignificant but which had a lasting impact on you?

Don’t worry about length; just write what’s on your mind.

Of course, not everyone has a close relationship with their father for a variety of reasons. Maybe your dad wasn’t an active part of your childhood or maybe he was actually a negative influence. Regardless, you still have memories and you still learned things from him – whether or not he was intentional in teaching them to you. Maybe he wasn’t an ideal role model; maybe his actions actually taught you what not to do in life. Nevertheless, he is a part of your DNA and has impacted your beliefs and values. He helped to shape you into the person you are today. Maybe this Father’s Day is the time to share some of your most meaningful and positive thoughts with him.

One thing is certain: no one lives forever. Time is short and we should take advantage of the opportunities we have to let our loved ones know what they mean to us. My dad was not an emotional guy; he wasn’t someone who liked to share his feelings, and he certainly wasn’t prone to sentimentality. Yet a few days before he passed away, I sent him a letter in which I shared what I loved most about him and some of my favorite memories. When I called to ask him if he received it, I could tell that he was struggling to hold back tears as he simply said, “Yep.” Even though we didn’t talk any more about it, I know that he treasured that letter.

Ultimately, your life story is not about you alone; it also includes those individuals closest to you and your interactions with them. This Father’s Day, let your dad know what he means to you.

Have you ever written a tribute letter? Share your experience in the comments section.