What’s in Your Closet?

Real Christmas TreeWith Christmas just days away, I thought it expedient to throw open the large door of the closet just off the kitchen and start to dig for the Christmas decorations that I knew were hiding in the back.

Opening this door becomes a situational comedy not unlike Fibber McGee and Molly and their famous closet. Inching open the door produces a torrential outpouring of boots, magazines, a rake—what’s a rake doing in here?—boxes of dishes that I swear I’m going to use or recycle and other assorted items that have been crammed into the space.

Closing the door is achieved with a full-body slam and a quick turn of the key in the lock. Two hours into the process of retrieving the decks, I had found a box of photographs, mostly of my father in WWII, the box also contained diplomas, citations, some ribbons from long-ago horse shows, early elementary-school group shots and a few love letters that had been assembled presumably by my mother and summarily off-loaded on me.

Treasures among junk

The box behind that contained scraps of vintage fabric, behind that a box of childhood books long out of print, next to that a collection of family prayer books handed down from my father’s side of the family. Another box, the contents wrapped in blue tissue paper, was my dad’s officer’s hat and a pair of 18th-century spectacles. Behind that were a few rolled-up, moth-eaten Oriental rugs, thin enough to read the New York Times through, coffee tins of nuts and bolts, the odd hammer, boxes filled with the upended contents of kitchen drawers never unpacked from the last house move, another box filled with rolls of masking tape.

I had, through this tedious exercise, actually, unknowingly, embarked on a nostalgia trip where I had learned things about my father that I hadn’t known, learned things about myself that I had boxed away and vaguely remembered and had finally found the hammer that had been missing for at least a year. The Christmas decorations were not there, however.

Oh no, I thought, they must be in the other closet upstairs.

– By Christopher Kent, a member of the WorthPoint board of advisers and director of evaluations for WorthPoint. He is also an antiques and collectibles generalist, fine-arts broker and president of CTK Design.

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