Every once in a while, my mom stops by to drop off what she calls "little prizes." They're small treasures—trinkets she finds at the Dollar Store or long-forgotten items buried in the kitchen junk drawer.
Sometimes, though, she'll bring something tastier: A loaf of bread or cupcake from a local bakery, or even a cup of chicken noodle soup because I "sounded stuffy" when we last spoke.
Those "prizes," as she calls them, may be small, but they mean a lot. They're little reminders that she's thinking of me, even if it is only returning the mechanical pencil I bought in college because it had my name printed on it.
But sometimes, those treasures are downright useful. Several times she's given me small, silicone salad dressing containers. "For your lunch," she tells me each time. "You need it for your lunch."
She's right. I do need them. But I never use them for salad dressings.
The little containers are the perfect size for small amounts of flavored coffee creamers. I'm pretty picky when it comes to coffee—office coffee from the giant, community carafe? Um, no thanks—so I bring my own K-cups and creamer.
Every night when I pack my lunch, I fill one of the silicone salad dressing containers with creamer, pop it in the fridge, and then grab it before I dart out of the door to head to work the next morning.
It's a small thing, being able to sip flavored coffee from your favorite mug at your desk. But it's one of the little things that makes the morning a little bit brighter. And knowing that I get to savor that because of a simple, kind gesture makes it even better.
It's also proof that the smallest gestures really can make a difference.
Erin Pustay Beaven is the online content editor for Rubber & Plastics News. She is an appreciator of life's littlest treasures, a reader of great books and supporter of the Green Bay Packers and Cleveland Indians. Erin is an advocate for libraries, arts education and PBS. Follow her on Twitter at @EBeavenCrain.