When I graduated college (back in the year too-long-ago-than-I-care-to-admit), I didn’t expect many gifts. If I did get a present, though, I always kinda hoped it’d be cash. I was 22 and my post-college job was an internship in the magazine industry. It was paid (which was very rare back then!) and I had worked all through college, so I had some sort of financial plan, but I was moving to New York City and needed every cent I could find. (I was fun in mall parking lots: Oh look, a nickel! Dibs!)
So you can probably guess how I felt when one of my mom’s life-long friends handed me a giant box during a mini graduation party in my parents’ backyard. I knew right away it wasn’t cash, but it took me many years to realize how much I actually appreciated the gift.
What was inside? A ton of glass food storage containers. I was gracious at the time (and yes, I sent a proper thank you card), but I wasn’t super excited by the gift. I got there eventually. It just took me a while to realize how incredibly practical the present would be.
I did bring it with me to my first apartment. Despite not having a ton of room in our tiny galley kitchen, my roommates and I found a place to stash the pieces (on a shelf in our makeshift pantry). We were all on a tight budget and knew we’d be cooking most of our meals at home, so we figured we’d use the containers now and then. Almost daily, we were either putting leftovers into them or eating leftovers out of them. Food very rarely spoiled in that apartment and budgets were followed.
I’m now on my sixth apartment (Note to self: Stop moving so much!) and those containers are still with me. Every single piece. I am impressed that I have not broken a single container (although I’ve certainly dropped most of them many times!) and I have always been able to chase down any piece I might have accidentally left at a potluck. These things are durable, help me waste less food, and now actually mean something to me. They’re what I ate mac and cheese out of when my magazine folded, they’re what I stored leftovers in the night I got engaged, and they’re what I used to bring slices of pie to my best friend when she busted her knee.
Sure, my mom’s friend could have given me cash. And I would have spent it on rent immediately. Or she could have given me a blender, which would have surely burnt out by now. But she didn’t. She gave me glass containers. A bold gift for a 22-year-old — and I have to say, I’m glad she took that risk.
What’s the best graduation gift you’ve ever given or received?
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