WHAT YOU DID ON MY CHRISTMAS VACATION
Um, did I forget to mention that the Newberry was closed seven of the twelve days I was out of town? Did they fail to mention this on the Newberry’s all-new, all-amazing website? Did I unthinkingly leave out the information that by “closed” I meant “there’s a really, really good chance that if you come to the Newberry, you’ll find the doors locked and be left standing holding your banana boxes out in the snow”? Hmmmm?
Okay, there wasn’t any snow. That was my mistake. By my count you folks were so infused with the Christmas spirit that you dropped off 47 boxes of books and tapes and DVDs and records for me, even though I wasn’t there. I DO like my Christmas surprises.
And you did not limit yourself to mere, mundane, everyday Book Fair donations. I got quite a nice brass floor lamp, a carpet runner with only two tiny stains you could put the table lamp over, a massage kit (unopened: obviously a regift situation), a fluffy puppy with squeakers in its toes, a wooden pen, three French hens, two turtle doves, and a chopper as seen on TV.
Sorry: got a bit carried away there. No one, thank goodness, sent me any poultry. (I do not include my unpleasant eBay customer who offered a Christmas goose.) The chopper was a nice touch. Considering how many seen-on-TV kitchen dee-vices are out there, I should be grateful I see these things only once or twice a year. I sold that pasta maker you sent me, by the way. Remember? The one that still had flour in it? A few customers were worried about how old the flour might be and whether it might, after all this time, be inhabited. But it sold to a person who told me she considered flour pests to be the lesser of two weevils.
Yeah, I know. But after dumping all those books on the poor library while my back was turned, you deserved that.
WHAT I DID ON MY CHRISTMAS VACATION
Well, as mentioned, I was in Caucusland, but I didn’t spend ALL my time hanging up on computer-generated “May I count on your support against all those godless, un-American demons who are running against me?” calls. I did spend a certain amount of time looking at books.
There are books in Iowa, you know: many of them not illustrated by Thomas Kinkade. They even have library book sales, so I needed to check through the books my mother picked up since my last visit, and then make a pilgrimage to the public library to make sure they really did have a few left.
And in the night, one evening after Christmas, I paused in my routine to mark a solemn anniversary. I couldn’t be exact about it, not having marked the exact time or day (you hardly ever do, at those historic moments.) But at some point in later December of 2010, I passed a mighty momentous marker. I was exactly twice as old as I was the first time I walked into the Newberry to help out at its Book Fair. What that means, for those of you too apathetic to do the math, is that from that second in December, 2010 on, I have been Newberry Book Fairing more than half my life.
Banana boxes, blueberry muffins, condensed books, annotated Renaissance spellbooks, moldy records, fluffy puppies, pasta makers, and all now deserve more than half the volumes in the extended autobiography. It’s the most amazing anniversary I’ve observed since the day I turned one billion seconds old. How does one observe a moment like that?
Well, how do you think? I sat back and read a book.