This morning was “Pack the Christmas crap up” day, characterized by the boxing and the strapping and the labelling and the hacking apart of large pieces of cardboard to make art mailers, and the age-old question of “How tightly can I scrunch a stuffed rhino so that I can shove it in a box with a stuffed elephant and a stuffed tarsier and wedge the whole thing shut through liberal use of packing tape? And while we’re at it, how many stuffed animals can dance on the head of a pin?” And then, of course, there’s the last minute Divvying Of The Art Amongst The Relatives, a sort’ve musical chairs where you put paintings that didn’t sell with people you couldn’t buy for. At first, you nobly attempt to match art to friends and family based on shared affections, in-jokes, themes, and species preferences, and then give it up and just send all the ones with nipples to people who don’t have kids.

But in the midst of this annual chaos came a happy surprise, as I waded through the closet searching for a box suitable for the plush safari, and pulled out a box labelled “Art–Crap–Misc.” (I believe in truth in labelling.) Opening it up I found the usual array of cheap (and dry) markers, scraps of leather, a container of gesso resembling the Great Salt Lake in miniature, and for some odd reason, a half dozen rooster tail feathers.

At the very bottom was a heavy square halloween candy bag. Curiousity piqued, I pulled it out, opened it up, and discovered the first forty issues of the “Books of Magic,” which I didn’t know I owned, residing in solitary splendor (and pretty fair condition, too) in a box unopened for the last six years. Which just goes to show that you don’t have to be descended in an unbroken line from the Pilgrims to have unexpectedly cool stuff lurking hidden in the closet, even if it’s not exactly ‘Antiques Roadshow’ material, and at the very least, gives me something to read now that I’ve gone through all the Discworld books yet again.

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