Organizing basement has its rewards

It was a hot June day, so hot I was working in our cool basement rather than outside in the punishing heat. I decided to attack the important and not so important papers that were tottering in messy, unorganized stacks on various flat surfaces around the room.

Filing is a chore I loathe and dread, and so I put it off for months. Surely there are others out there who procrastinate dealing with the documents that fill our lives. I can’t be the only one.

I began my organization by examining charge card receipts, utility bills, financial statements, medical test results, medical invoices, medical insurance papers, auto insurance papers, life insurance papers, and so on. I have no statistics to prove it, but life’s paperwork seems to grow exponentially as we age.

However, it’s not just legal and official papers through which I periodically sort and stack. Because for most of my life I have had this need to save magazine and newspaper articles, poems, song lyrics, curiously printed cards as well as the occasional cartoon. My stack I call “Items of Personal Interest” was well-represented. That stack is where I placed a card I received last Christmas.

It was a particularly frigid evening as we unloaded our equipment at the venue in downtown Indianapolis where The Retro Brothers were playing a private Christmas party. There is something about the concrete and steel of big cities that makes the chill of winter nights even more pronounced, so we got inside as soon as we could. Sometime before we started playing Retro Dan handed me a red envelope with the card.

On the cover is a close-up still from the movie, “A Christmas Story” showing Ralphie watching Flick grimace has he tries to free his tongue from the frozen flagpole. The caption is “I Triple-Dog Dare You!”

Opening the card revealed the punchline: “…To Have A Merry Christmas.” I smiled because it was funny and a nice gesture and because we both like the movie. He also handed me a small bag with a device, a Sidewinder, that attaches to a drill and is used to wind guitar string pegs when changing strings.

In my defense, he was explaining about the gift as I was reading the card. Also, the card is made in what you might call a landscape format in that it is more wide than tall. This means when I opened it from bottom to top rather than from left to right like a book, I was focused on the funny punchline and his name at the bottom of the card and didn’t glance at the rest of the inside of the card.

So that’s my excuse for how I missed the Starbucks gift card taped up toward the top.

We played the party and then packed up. I put the Christmas card and gift bag in a satchel and carried it with the rest of the equipment to the car. Eventually the gifts made their way from the musical equipment area of the basement to one of the paper piles where it sat until I re-discovered it when I decided to organize.

When I saw the Starbucks gift card, I called Retro Dan and offered a very belated thank you. He was good-natured about it and thought it was a funny story. I told him I wanted to meet him at Starbucks for coffee. My treat. As we ended our phone conversation he said, “Merry Christmas.”

On that hot, humid June day I was pleased to be reminded of a bitter cold night in December playing music with my musical partner and good friend.