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An Open Letter to My Stolen Light-up Christmas Hat

January 15, 2021
Andrea smiling and wearing her new Christmas hat.
Behatted and Besotted — Christmas 2019

Dear Beloved Christmas Hat,

You were more than just an entertaining 2019 novelty Christmas gift. You were the most beautiful woolen hat I ever saw. Not only did you bring me great joy, but the bright lights on your woven Christmas tree distracted from my large chin and any smears of chocolate on my shirt. I always could find your “on” switch without looking. I miss you.

In the three short weeks we were together, I should have done a better job watching out for you and for the future of humanity. I should have replaced your landfill-bound batteries with rechargeable ones right away. That would have been good for your dazzling LEDs, and an environmentally-friendly energy source would have shown even the cruelest Anthropocene deities that balance can be achieved in many ways. The gods didn’t have to do what they have done.

My computer and I haven’t returned to that cafeteria in the George Washington University Marvin Center in the year since you were stolen. I was a different person back when you disappeared. I was a fool. I let my laptop’s screen block the view of where you sat on the lunchroom table, while I focused on writing a story about a particle traveling from the beginning of the universe to its end. I thought if I just could get that particle story right, it would make all the difference in 2020

Too close to you, a tall stranger passed by. I looked up into his star-flecked eyes. I should have been watching his hands. The Marvin Center was dotted with signs warning patrons to guard their possessions. 

I don’t mean to offend. No one could possess a hat like you. I realize my ideas about property are misguided. Besides, the thief was only a convenient option for you and an easy place for me to lay blame until I could accept the truth. Now, I know that the world needed you to leave me. 

For an hour after you disappeared, I looked in every trash can and under every table. I was like a crazed animal with a Merino fetish. I’m embarrassed by how much time I spent on all fours in front of so many wide-eyed college students and concerned janitorial staff.

Perhaps if we had spoken before you went away then I might have fewer regrets. I need you to know I never was going to make you spend the summer in the closet hat box at home. Instead, you were destined to be placed lovingly behind the sunscreen bottles on the grab-and-go shelf, the one with the baseball caps. Falling to the floor would have been impossible.

2020 Trashcan Fire Christmas Ornament
2020 Trashcan Fire Christmas Ornament

I need to tell you something else, too. I see now what you saw back in January 2020. My brain gets all twisted up thinking about it. You knew what was going to happen even before the overworked doctors of Hubei Province. The joy I felt when you were near upset the cosmic balance. Only the sadness and tragedy of the global coronavirus pandemic could provide a counterweight that righted the world. You sensed the calamity approaching. You anticipated just how much worse the plague would become if you stayed and my joy continued unabated. You had to leave.

I know now that we can’t be together, but in my most self-indulgent moments over the last year, I haven’t cared about the universe’s equilibrium. I’ve been glad for our three sparkling weeks together. For three more with you, I’ll admit I’ve fantasized about how I would remain silent and blissful if an asteroid struck, or a Category Seven hurricane formed, or the Yellowstone supervolcano exploded.

It was wrong of me to feel that way. I’m learning to save my self-indulgence for the consumption of theobromine in situ and soynut butter on raisin bread. When my thoughts stray to you, I instead try to think about the hard-working healthcare professionals who still can’t get N95 masks and the over-70s who switched off Fox News and voted for the Biden / Harris ticket. You abandoned me to make their lives better, not to make mine worse. 

Besides, I know whoever you’re with now can’t love you as much as I do, or there wouldn’t be so many viable COVID-19 vaccines.

I’ve tried to accept this new reality. Light-up Christmas hats were on sale in early spring 2020, although the Christmas tree ones like you were sold out. The hat I got had a Tyrannosaurus Rex on it. Immediately, I changed out its batteries for the rechargeable type. I felt guilty about that, like I was dishonoring our time together, but it’s not the same with Light-up Christmas T-Rex. His hands are too tiny to distract from my chin. 

At least I’m reminded what happiness was like when I imagine how this past year you would have been able to do everything I haven’t. You could have traveled without regard to PCR tests and quarantine requirements. Doing shots off the belly of a Sturgis Motorcycle Rally biker wouldn’t have caused you any concerns. No one would have stopped you from bringing a karaoke machine to T.J. Maxx and belting out Sinéad O’Connor’s greatest hits. You are such a lucky hat.

Always, I’ll think fondly of you. I hope that the heads you warm in the future won’t stretch your threads uncomfortably, and I pray that being the object of knife fights won’t mar your gentle spirit. 

Wishing you and your batteries infinite recharge cycles,

Andrea

Andrea and her Christmas hat at the Lincoln Memorial on the fateful day of parting in January 2020.
That fateful day — hours before our parting — January 2020.
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