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The Green Hat

First snow.

We were expecting to wake to white, but it rained all night. Shortly after the kids were settled with their cups of juice this morning, snow started falling. It didn’t last long. The lawn looked sugared when the snow switched back to mundane rain. Everyone was disappointed, until the boxes and bags were dragged from the closet and opened.

boo-in-the-hatHere’s a red mitten, where’s the other?

Whose hat is this?

Where are my mittens?

The green hat!

I bought the stretchy green fleece hat with ear flaps when Ryley was a baby, nearly seven years ago. It was $1 and I was proud of my bargain. I had no idea it would be passed from brother to brother like a treasured toy or viral infections, but it has been a standard part of every winter since 1999. We have a true Brotherhood of the Green Hat. sam-in-the-hat

Tommy is now caretaker, defender, and curator of the Green Hat. He took possession last winter, wearing it smugly on bright chilled spring days, bow-tied under his shivering chin on snarling cold days. He wore it on days when coats weren’t necessary. He wore it as a fashion statement, as if he were starting a Green Hat Society as the antidote to the Red Hat Society—earnest preschool boys vs. uproarious menopausal middle-aged women.

He wore it today as he ate a waffle with cinnamon and sugar. He took it off long enough to pull a shirt over his head. He wore it in the car as we drove the older kids to school. He wore it inside. He wore it as he begged for hot chocolate. He wore it as he sipped. He wore it as he inexplicably put his cup in the silverware drawer and walked away. He is wearing it now.

The green hat is one of our family treasures. Each boy has made it his own. Ryley and Tommy always like the green hat to be tied on securely. Sam always wore it perched on top of his head, like a fuzzy green bird. Joel will probably wear it backward. The hat is outward evidence of a deep bond, an evergreen thread running through our family history. Someday, when I am old enough to wear an obnoxious floppy red hat with feathers jutting like unbalanced hormones, I will see bobbing green fleece in my mind’s eye, smile, and make my daughter-in-laws’ eyes roll when I insist she stick the grungy thing on my grandsons’ precious heads.

Just for a minute.

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