Although I considered writing a single letter to my parents thanking them jointly for all they did for me, I decided that they both deserved to be recognized as individuals and not lumped together as a unit the way they often are in my mind.

I also realized that I am grateful for some very different things my Dad did that my mother didn’t play a role in, and vice versa.

For context, the man I call Dad is not my father in the biological sense, but he is my Dad in all the ways that actually matter.

He started dating my mother when I was barely 6 months old, and stuck to us like glue in a way that I took for granted until I got older and realized how few of my friends had a Dad around.

Without further ado, below is the letter I sent to my Dad for Thanksgiving.

To the man who is not my biological father, but will always be my Daddy:

I wanted to thank you for all the things you did for me that may have seemed small…

These things stick in my memory and they make all the difference in who I am now.

Thank you for continuing to date my mother after I threw up all over you at 6 months old.

Thank you for coming out of nowhere in that parking garage and saving me when I lost control of my bike going downhill and almost crashed.

Thank you for staying home from work and watching A Knight’s Tale on my bedroom floor with me when I had the flu.

Thank you for flipping me upside-down so I could ‘walk on the ceiling.’

Thank you for letting me sleep in your bedroom for months when I had those terrible night terrors.

Thank you for always fixing… Well, everything for us.

Thank you for helping me with my homework – Remember that shoebox diorama on the Sahara desert I had to do in the 3rd grade? Mine was the coolest in the class and that was all because of you.

Thank you for hiding the Easter eggs all around the house and yard for me and my friends.

Thank you for adopting me and letting me take your name.

Thank you for instilling in me a deep appreciation for Pink Floyd (and classic rock in general!)

Thank you for teaching me all about cars – People are consistently surprised that I can carry a conversation on this topic.

Thank you for drawing on the back of placemats for me while we waited for our food at Antonio’s.

Thank you for always making me feel proud about being strong and athletic.

Thanks Dad - Thanksgiving - Exercising Gratitude

Thank you for bragging to all your friends about what a tough little chick I was.

Thank you for taking me to see all the X-Men movies.

Thank you for teaching me how to fry an egg inside a slice of bread – What a glorious concept!

Thank you for volunteering to coach my baseball and softball teams (even though we always sucked and couldn’t be helped.)

Thank you for always encouraging me to keep drawing and supporting my creative side.

Thank you for showing me how delicious Polish Kielbase is and for making it OK to eat breakfast for dinner every once in awhile.

Thanks Dad - Daddy's Girl - Thanksgiving

Thank you for sharing your appreciation for Frank Frazetta’s artwork with me.

Thank you for taking me and my friends jet-skiing on the weekends – It’s one of my fondest family memories and I know Shayna and Daniel felt the same way.

Thank you for teaching me to drive by taking me to an empty lot and showing me how to stop short at 45 mph – This has definitely come in handy more times than I care to admit.

Thank you for going door-to-door in our neighborhood to petition so the HOA would allow me to park my car in the lot (so ridiculous that you even had to do this.)

Thank you for teaching me how to sand a car down, even if I hated it and never, ever want to do it again.

Thank you for trying to teach me to ride your motorcycle, and thank you for not getting angry with me when I dropped it and scratched up the paint.

Thank you for teaching me how to peel crab legs like a pro.

Thank you for being brutally honest with me when I pondered whether my ex ever really loved me and you simply said, “No, probably not.”

Thank you for opening up and telling me about your past – It meant everything to me to learn about your difficult relationship with your mother.Thank you Dad for Always Being There

Thank you for admitting that sometimes, when no one was around, you cried too.

Thank you for your incredible patience – I don’t know where I’d be without your calm influence growing up.

But most of all, thank you for always sticking around and demonstrating loyalty –

Because of you I know what a real man looks and acts like, and I’ll never settle for less than what I deserve.

NEXT: Read the thank-you letter I sent to my Mom.

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