It is no secret to the family who rattles around the old farmhouse at Shady Acres that the father of the household, (“Certain Man,” or “CM,” or “Daddy” by his daughters, or “Dad” by his sons) has a penchant for hats. Yepper! Hats. Beaked fabric hats that are made for souveniours, for baseball players, for farmers in the fields, for bad boys to wear backwards, for almost any conceivable purpose. Certain Man collects them. He has for years. He has over two hundred of the redundant looking things. Redundant except for the identifying logos on the front of each hat.
I have displayed them around the top of my laundry room (until the dusting of them became too labor intensive). I have bought “over the door” hat holders for them but those inventions left much to be desired. I hammered nails into the wall of the stairway going into the basement, but it would only hold a portion of them, and when Certain Man took it upon himself to remodel that area into a space for storing his Christmas Village and accessories, he took them all down. So we had this old upright bureau in the basement that was mostly resistant to the beasties of the basement, and we stored them there.
Most of the time, he has a favorite one that he wears “for good” meaning when he goes somewhere besides the chicken house or Southern States or Ace Hardware or Gray Burlingame’s. Usually that one is the newest one from the chicken company that we are growing for, or from Goulds Pumps, or some other fairly readily available supplier that provides him with a hat of his liking. The other kind are often in a sorry state of affairs. Sometimes falling apart, almost always dusty and dirty and ordinary. He is a little picky about what kind of hat he wants to wear. He likes breathable material in the summer, heavier in the winter. Doesn’t like them to “stick up like a rooster” in front, but doesn’t want them to make him “look like a skinhead” by being too tight. Hats are a real science to this man, and he has so many memories tied up in the individual hats that I couldn’t conscientiously do a purge. There were hats that his daughters bought him from lands afar. There were hats given to him on MDS trips with memories that make him smile. There are hats from people he likes, from previous employers, special hats proclaiming “#1DAD” or “Campbell’s Taxidermy” or “Yutzy’s Plumbing” or “LONDON, ENGLAND” or even “#1 Plumbing Inspector.”
Then Middle Daughter, in years gone by, has begun to make blankets for her siblings that have significance. She started with the mile-high stack of tee shirts belonging to Youngest Son. She sorted and trimmed and counseled with him as to which ones should just go to Salvation Army, which should go to the trash and which he would like to preserve. It was a thing of deep sentimental value, and Middle Daughter stitched love in every seam and knotted it tight with affection.
Then Youngest Daughter wanted a tee shirt blanket, and Middle Daughter got busy again and made a coverlet that caused the little ones to crow and climb around under it and make a tent and giggle with glee. Youngest Daughter was delighted with how things turned out, and the blanket will warm her through the cold Ohio winters as she readjusts to the difference in temperatures between the equator and the latitude of 39.7442° N.
Carson, Charis and Nevin under Rachel’s unfinished Blanket.
And then, Middle Daughter connived to have Certain Man’s name for Christmas. He had a blanket that I had knotted for him years and years ago, and it was getting threadbare. (One time when I was heating it up over the wood stove so I could tuck it over him, I almost caught it on fire because I got it too close and left it too long. So that part was really coming apart!) He hasn’t complained much, but has voiced a desire for a new blanket of his own. When Middle Daughter pondered upon it, she decided to try her hand at taking apart some of his hats and putting them together into a knotted comforter for him. It didn’t take too long for her to convince herself that it was possible, and she set to work.
Whew! Was this ever a job! The material was thick on some, deteriorating on others. There was much planning and piecing and reconstructing and agonizing, but finally she GOT IT! She used over a hundred of his hats, didn’t repeat a single logo (there were some repeats of companies, but with different logos) and got it all done before Christmas and tucked it away in a box. Certain Man knew of the project but was careful not to look before it was time. I was so excited for her that I could hardly contain myself. It was so warm and meaningful and attractively put together in a masculine sort of way.
It is really long, so that he can tuck it under his feet on the recliner and keep them toasty warm. The whole family has looked over the different logos pictured there and we remember happy, happy times from the last long decades of time. It was another wholly precious time on Christmas Eve when Certain Man opened his box and found this labor of love, fashioned with creativity and ingenuity.
. . . another reason why the evening was very, very special. Thanks, Deborie-girl!