Graduation cards received by Peter Huxley, from 1978 to 2012

Hats off to you! Get it?

Petey,

Congratulations on graduating from Kindergarten! You are such a big boy! We can’t wait for what comes next!

We love you,

Mommy and Daddy

*

Dear Pete,

ConGRADulations! You’ve finished eighth grade! Now on to high school and beyond…the best is yet to come.

Mom and Steve

*

Peter,

You’ve finished high school, and now you are a man. In other words, it’s time to start taking some responsibility for your actions. But let’s not talk about that now. It’s a day for celebration (!). I’m sure your best days are still ahead of you.

Love,

Dad

P.S. For obvious reasons, we’re not giving you any cash.

*

Dear Peter,

Well, you finally did it. Congratulations. I’m not going to lie. I didn’t think I’d live to see the day you graduated from college, even one as  second-rate as Tupelo Community College.

Where did we go wrong? I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have written that. I’d throw this card out and buy another one, but, well, money’s tight and I have to figure I’ll be supporting you for a while with the economy what it is.

Anyway, maybe things will improve for all of us.

Love,

Mom

P.S. I know you guys aren’t really in touch but Steve also wishes you well.

*

Dear Peter,

I know we already celebrated your graduation from college but when I found out you still needed 2 credits, I figured we’d celebrate again when you really graduated. This is that.

-Mom

*

Petey!

You did it! Congratulations on getting your certificate in lacquering! You’re so good at applying hard, durable finishes to wood products. The best is yet to come!

Your wife,

Patty

Analysis: Although commonplace now, the concept of “graduation” is actually relatively new. The traditional story of the ritual’s birth comes from Bologna in the mid 13th century. A group of monks, tired of being fined or ostracized over their practice of joyously hurling their hats in the air whenever they got good news, decided to create a new ceremony where hat-throwing would be not only accepted, but even encouraged. The first class of Bologna Monastery Tech was just two priests and a well-read donkey, but legend has it that the streets of Southwestern Bologna were covered in so many hats it took a month of hard labor before carts could travel again. Though today the hat-throwing is just a small part of the graduation ritual, it’s important to remember its humble beginnings.

Not surprisingly, the first graduation card was also invented by the monks at BMT. The author is unknown, though it was addressed to Fr. Franzibald “X-Ray” Guccione. Like all graduation cards, it expressed a sincere hope that the graduate would do something now, and that if they were to do something, it would be a way to learn a living. Sadly, the only mention we have of Friar Guccione is from the bill of a Florentine underground comedy theater, where he performed with his improv troupe “Acts of Dog.” He, like so many graduates to follow, disappointed friends and family alike.

Humorously, Peter Huxley’s sister Anna graduated Summa Cum Laude from Stanford and earned a PhD in particle Physics from Princeton, but her work on String Theory has also disappointed her parents, who remain firmly in the camp of Quantum Loop Gravity. Upon hearing of her highly influential paper summarizing the mathematics of multi-dimentionality at the Planck level, her mother remarked, “oh good, now I have two dimbulbs coming to Thanksgiving. I’d ask you to bring a pie, but I’m worried you’d hurt yourself operating the stove.”

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