Family’s ‘Tiny Hat’ Circles the Globe in Sweet Birthday Tradition: ‘It Brings Joy’

A present from a grandmother to her granddaughter has turned into a loving way to honor the matriarch's legacy

<p>Courtesy Kristine Goodyear</p> Goodyear Family

Courtesy Kristine Goodyear

Goodyear Family's tiny birthday hat tradition

For her 41st birthday in 2014, Kristine Goodyear flew from her home in Colorado to Fort Lauderdale, Florida, to celebrate with her grandma Kempie McKenna.

"Grams" gifted Kristine a birthday card along with a tiny polka-dot party hat — complete with pink fluff and ribbon.

"We were just tickled by it, it was so cute," Goodyear recalls. "She'd always given me fun, little gifts like that."

From there, the big adventures of the tiny hat took off. Toted in a fittingly tiny container, the hat has made its way around North and South America, with Goodyear bringing it to Belize, Aruba, Mexico and beyond.

"If there is anybody celebrating a birthday, I'll bring it with me and get a photo of them wearing the tiny hat on their head," Goodyear shares. "I have some friends who've worn it probably seven years in a row. It's such a simple, silly thing, but everyone gets the biggest kick out of it."

<p>Courtesy Kristine Goodyear</p> Kristine Goodyear and her brother with Grams

Courtesy Kristine Goodyear

Kristine Goodyear and her brother with Grams

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Goodyear documents some of the hat's adventures on Instagram at @tiny.hat.2014, showcasing some of its more memorable moments on loved ones and even her two dogs.

As the hat has been so used through the years, however, the barrette has started to come apart, she says. "It's basically cardboard and lace," she explains. "I've thought about having a duplicate made so I can just preserve this one on a shelf somewhere — I don't even know what I would do if something happened to it!"

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<p>Courtesy Kristine Goodyear</p> Goodyear's dog in the tiny hat

Courtesy Kristine Goodyear

Goodyear's dog in the tiny hat

Grams died in 2019, just shy of her 90th birthday, but Goodyear, now 50, says, "She would think it's nifty that it brings joy to people. She and I were really close, and it will always remind me of her. Every time I pull it out, I tell the story of how it came to be. And then people that I know who I've told the story to, they tell other people, which I get a kick out of also. Because it's a unique story: It's like this little hat, just a silly little birthday gift, and it's been all over now."

"I treasure it more than I would all the money in the world," Goodyear adds. "It's really special."

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