My mother-in-law is the best gift giver I've ever met. She's the type of person who will remember something Jonah or I mention in passing, and bring it as a host gift. Nearly every time I see her, she has a loaf of homemade challah, a book she thinks I'd like, or a cookie from a bakery she noticed contains my favorite ingredients in hand, always with a thoughtful note. It shouldn't have come as a surprise that, when she wasn't able to travel to Portland to help Jonah and me move because of social distancing precautions, she still managed to send the perfect pairing to make us feel welcomed and loved.
When we arrived at our apartment two weeks ago, a large, unexpected box was already waiting for us—with her return address on it. A note inside read, "Jonah + Leslie, May your new pantry be just like your new home, your new city—full of delicious promise!" Beneath it was a treasure trove of pantry essentials (tomato paste, olive oil, quinoa) but also so many fun treats from new-to-me brands (Chai maple syrup, Thai green chili sauce, curry mustard, white balsamic vinegar).
Later, as Jonah and I were heading out to walk around our neighborhood for the first time, she called us and recommended that we stop by our local brewery—something was waiting for us there. We ordered beers to drink outside, and when we told the bartender our names, she told us we had a gift card waiting for us that was enough to cover not only that round, but two more on subsequent evenings.
The gift—of the box of pantry staples to nest, and gift card to encourage exploration—was the perfect way to kick off an evening that could have been overwhelming and scary. Rather than feeling lost, we were able to head straight to the brewery, then come home to turn the tomato sauce and pasta into a familiar meal we've made a thousand times.
Knowing that she'd hand-picked each item with us in mind and taken the time to research our neighborhood to find a spot she knew we'd enjoy made the gesture among the most meaningful I've ever received. That simple box and gift card, along with new friends thoughtful enough to insist we meet for a distanced park hang on our first full day, provided the building blocks for a new home that felt loved from the moment we arrived.
With so many people moving as a result of this pandemic, priorities shifting, and jobs changing or moving online, take it from me: a two-part gift, to nest and explore, can make all the difference.