Ok. So, I've got a good-sized pile of graduation announcements sitting on my table. And I'm not sure what to give each kid.

It used to be that you sent your favorite kids 100 bucks. Coworkers' kids that you didn't really know very well got $50. And distant friends' kids who you may have spoken to once in their lives got $25.

Is it the same now? Is cash still the best present? Or do we get them gift cards now?

Years ago I really put in some effort and used some creativity for my friends' kids.

There is one family that I knew, whose kids were honor students and church regulars. When their son graduated I got him a job application from a Hooters Restaurant. I also included several packets of grape Kool-aid to make the jungle juice at the dorm parties taste better. I topped off the prize package with some beer can koozies and a couple of condoms and he was all set for freshman year.

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I recall when my graduation gifts started rolling in all those decades ago. I didn't understand what the big deal with the whole celebration was at the time.

All I did was what my dad told me to do, and that was to actually graduate. In fact, he explained it in a way that suggested that there wasn't a nongraduating option unless I was checking the box that included the butt-whooping.

Students throwing their graduation hats in the air during a graduation ceremony
Credit: Purestock
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So, I graduated. I walked across the stage and got my diploma.

But then the money started rolling in. It was crazy! For the first time in my life, writing thank you cards was pretty easy to get around to.

Pile of Money
Credit: Ingram Publishing
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LOOKING BACK: The Cat Country All-Stars

If you're a newer listener, you may not be aware that Cat Country had its own basketball team that traveled around Montana.