Friday, December 16, 2011
This is a continuation of my orginal post from last year. My readers who have been with me from the start will recognize this post. I'm reposting because I believe they show the extreme contrast between a non-alcoholic holiday and then one where alcohol has taken over completely.
Ghosts of seasons past…
Both Brian and Alea have become adults and have moved into their own homes to start their own lives. That year, Brian was off in
Hong Kong working for a company that sent him around the world. His current assignment would last five years. He wasn’t crazy about the country, but he met a young lady that he was hoping would return to the with him. United States
Alea was now a single mom. She worked hard and barely made ends meet. She shared an apartment with a childhood friend and it seemed to be working as well as most roommate relationships went. She received no child support from Ryan’s father. She was stubborn, independent and determined to do it all on her own. That is – unless her independence meant Ryan would not have something important.
Christmas was important. Alea had money for the necessities, but that didn’t include big Santa gifts or even a Christmas tree. Much like her parents in 1972, she was a young family on a very strict budget.
Riley had moved out of our home and was sharing a house with another couple who drank as actively and alcoholicly as he did. It was a bad environment and Alea would not allow Ryan to be a part of that particular home scene. That didn’t seem to matter much to Riley. He didn’t have time for his family. He had a girlfriend – who was married to someone else – and he had his roommates. They shared common interests – alcohol and sex. It was no place for a 3 year old.
Alea invited Riley to her home often. She still wanted that Daddy with the handlebar moustache, but he was long gone. Whenever Riley knew there would be young female friends visiting Alea, he always showed up. He would focus his attention on the young women. They teased him and tolerated him. When his passes were turned down often enough, he would be off again to someplace else that held more sexual possibilities.
I didn’t have a lot of money. I was barely making ends meet and that was even working two jobs. Riley was retired and had his retirement pay – and he made it clear it was his. We had lost our home to foreclosure and our two new cars had been repo’d. I had a small apartment and was trying to keep my head above water.
I had managed to get a new car and gave the older one to Alea. It was to be part of her Christmas present. I bought the Christmas tree, stocking stuffers and the food for Christmas dinner – which was to be held at Alea’s. I also managed to buy Ryan some clothes to be used as gifts. And I had a heart to heart talk with Riley. I asked him what he planned to give Ryan. He said he would get whatever I thought was best. I told him toys. We needed to get him a Santa gift and some other toys. I told him to plan to spend about $100. I told him not to worry about Alea, all she wanted for Christmas was for Ryan to have a great day.
Two days before Christmas, I called Riley and asked if he wanted me to wrap any of Ryan’s gifts. He said he would bring them over. When asked what he got for him, he rattled off different toys. I thought, oh, that’s nice. He really listened to me. But, the next day – Christmas Eve – when I called again about the gifts, he told me he didn’t have any. He said someone had taken them out of the truck. And he didn’t have any money to buy any gifts.
His past behavior was always to present the image that he was thoughtful, caring, responsible and the rest of the world was all ridiculous. In my heart, I know there had never been any gifts bought. I knew he had other plans for his money. I knew he needed to buy gifts for his girlfriend and roommates and their families. His real family didn’t stand a chance.
But, Ryan had a wonderful Christmas morning because Alea’s friends pulled together and they bought him several great gifts. Several of my friends also chipped in. The little guy was happy. He played and played and Alea and I watched him with tears in our eyes. We had the best gift ever. We had Ryan.
Riley showed up for dinner and Alea was cordial. He brought with him a box of candy for me and a box for Alea. He had nothing for Ryan. He left very early – right after dinner – because he said he had other gifts to deliver.
I don’t know what happened to the man I spent Christmas with in 1972. The alcohol pod people must have taken him while he was passed out after a stupor. As much as I had loved him in 1972, I hated him in 1992.
at 4:00 AM