Hey there, hi there, ho there! This is the Vacation Hat. What was once just bubble wrap, tape, and paper became so much more. In the doctor's office where I worked, we collected a wonderful group of people. We didn't have much money but we had great imaginations and even greater times. The tradition was that on the last day you worked before leaving on vacation, you had to wear the hat the entire day. It was an odd combination of celebration of your time off and punishment for dumping all of your unfinished work on others.
Over the years, the hat had many incarnations. We started using it for all kinds of celebrations. One man's trash is another man's treasure. What I treasure are the many happy memories held in this hat. I remember when Suzanna turned 30 years old. "Colette, wear this hat with pride. I know your mom did. Happy 21st!," proclaims the lavender Post-It note. Dr. Jamie's favorite sayings, which drove us crazy, are imbued in that hat. It was given as an employee award. And, conversely, it was used to identify, like a dunce cap, the office poop-stirrer du jour. Please note the phases of the moon illustrated by, well, the cottage cheese, moon-glute chart moving from waxing to full to waning. We were definitely students of anatomy. Oh yeah! The doctor made us so. By the time even the most short lived employee left our office, they were quite familiar with the glutes. We discussed, treated, and charged for more buns than are buttered on Thanksgiving Day.
Just like kids who have more fun with the cardboard box than the expensive gift inside, so it was for us. Until the day we left that office, we looked as forward to receiving that hat as we did to passing it on to the next poor chump. We valued this wacky, tacky, plastic Vacation Hat at the price of gold because it symbolized many years of friendship. For a time, we thought it lost. Its disappearance was the subject of many a baleful conversation. But, today, while cleaning the deepest, scariest reaches of my bedroom closet, I uncovered a small, beautifully decorated box that had been carefully tucked away. Upon opening the box, happiness filled my heart as I beheld the splendor of the Vacation Hat. And the ritual begins anew. To whom will it go next? The thing is is that if it is you, you will know that you are well loved.