I have a problem. One that has been passed down from my mother, and, in turn, passed down to her from my grandmother. Millions suffer from it, countless shows have been based on it. My hoarding isn’t random items I pick up from a stoop sale, but one particular piece of clothing that can make or break an outfit: a coat.
My coat hoarding started in high school with leather jackets and pea coats and has recently upgraded to down jackets and the classic trench coat. Despite the excitement of wrapping a new coat around my shoulders, I realized they were becoming ornaments for my closet rather than something I could enjoy.
So just like ripping a bandage from an old wound I shoved the coats in large shopping bags and dropped them off at the nearest location for the Winter Coat Drive. When I got back, draped on my couch were three coats that were left behind–intentionally? ….Maybe, okay, pretty likely but it’s not because they are my favorites…that would be too difficult to decide.
It’s not the style, fit or warmth factor that has me hanging on, it’s the givers of these garments that give me pause. The memories of my college roommate giving me a tan suede Baby Phat coat that was three sizes to big; my then-boyfriend-now husband and I exchanging coats on our first Christmas together; searching aisle after aisle in Century 21 for a surprise down coat for my boyfriend.
Those memories can stay etched in my mind like the ketchup stain on the sleeve of my tan coat. But for the thousands of families struggling to stay warm in the city, a winter coat is a lifeline not a fashion statement. So if I give nothing else this season I want to give the gift of warmth to so many that don’t have it this year.