Thank you lessons by
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Prompted By Thank You

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Thank you lessons

There is only ONE THING you are permitted to say

Yes, my mother taught her children to write thank you cards, pretty much limited to relatives who sent birthday or Christmas presents.  There was a protocol that went, “Dear xxxx, Thank you for the xxxxx.  Maybe a comment on how nice it was.  Maybe a word about one’s health or the weather.  Thank you again, Love, me.” An addressed envelope, return address, a stamp.  Now quaint life skills.  I carried this on with my grandmother until she was in her nineties, and believed it was why she continued to send me an unvarying ten dollars each year.

But, I learned another important lesson from an unexpected source, which has proved broadly useful.  It happened when my sweetheart and I signed up for a smattering of local adult education midlife topics such as bird watching, languages, photoshop–and bridge.  Barbara was a wonderful teacher, initiating us not just in the rules of the game, but bridge culture.  We learned how to bid, how to finesse, how to play the cards and trump.  But the most important lesson was knowing what to do when you have won the bid, your partner proceeds to lay down their hand as the “dummy”, and you and the other players get to see those cards.  At that moment of truth, facial expressions can tip your opponents and make you lose the game.  Further, in outrage at seeing the cards, partners have come to blows, and marriages have foundered.  And so, dear students, you cannot show your emotions, call each other names, or upend the table.  There is only ONE THING you are permitted to say at that moment, in an even and pleasant voice:  “Thank you, partner.”

Profile photo of Khati Hendry Khati Hendry

Characterizations: well written


  1. Marian says:

    Great words of wisdom, Khati. What applies to poker applies to bridge. Thank you for this learning.

  2. Betsy Pfau says:

    Nice one, Khati! I learned to play bridge over one summer while in college from a close friend’s brother who I was dating. We would go off to her parents lake cabin for a weekend (she was with her boyfriend since high school and married him, so I knew him well), these two couples. But her brother was volatile, and I was just learning to play, so I partnered with her gentle boyfriend, who was much kinder to this novice.

    In college, when I began dating the man I would marry, the game switched from hearts to bridge. He was a very good player, even had some Master points, but, since we were courting, he put up with me. Your lesson is well-taught.

  3. Laurie Levy says:

    As the daughter of avid bridge players, I wish I had heard those words more often. Thank you, Khati, for an interesting take on this topic.

  4. I’ve never played bridge, have never even seen the game being played, so I found your story intriguing…so much so that I had to do a little more research on bridge etiquette. Fascinating, and now I understand a little more about why it’s such a popular game! Thanks for such a unique take on this prompt, Khati!

  5. Suzy says:

    Khati, this is a great story about the importance of “thank you.” I played bridge for many years, and I probably gave as well as received an explosion or two upon seeing the dummy’s hand, but of course that gives so much info to the opponents that it is really foolish, in addition to being bad manners. Your teacher taught you well.

  6. This is as foreign a tongue to me as virtual riding with bike apps (see last week’s story) might be to others. Thanks for your kind initiation into this world.

  7. Khati, I’m remembering that my mother was a better bridge player than my father and at some point he bowed out and she got a more compatible bridge partner! (Thankfully they did have an enviably happy marriage.)

    I’m also reminded of a friend who played golf with his wife. Regardless of whether her swing was good or bad, he would always say, “Nice shot, Honey”

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