Redeeming the time
DescriptionA thanksgiving postponed
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Thanksgiving Day was to Ryan what Christmas morning is to a seven year old boy. As soon the leftovers were gone, he was looking forward to next year. Early that morning his wife Lonnie was up putting the turkey in the oven, and making all the necessary preparations for the day. He got out of bed at the usual time. It was of course the last Thursday of the month of November, and he was scheduled to work half a day. If he wanted to get paid for Friday he had to show up. They both knew full well the boss would pay him either way. He worked in a garage repairing cars and trucks, and he had made the people he worked with closer to him then his own family. As he got ready to leave Lonnie asked him not to go. she knew that if he left he would not return. You see Ryan was an alcoholic, and his work supported his alcoholic lifestyle. It wasn't hard to get Ryan to go in. He loved to be with his co workers, and the many others who stopped by to drink. Before Ryan left that morning he told Lonnie he would come home to enjoy the dinner she had planned. She told him it would be ready around one thirty, and not to be late. Ryan never gave her his promise because he was doubtful that he could keep it. His wife was aware of this as she watched him walk out the door, and get in to his truck. As he drove quietly down the empty street he tortured himself with the reality that he would fail in his attempt to make it home on time. Ryan couldn’t count the number of times he had forsaken his family to go drink with his friends. It had taken a few years for him to get to this point, but all those things he had once loved were now replaced by his insatiable thirst for alcohol and the company of others. He was glad to get to work so he didn’t have to think about it anymore. Work was the place that he felt at home, and before long he was focused on some task. The people Ryan worked for respected him as a hard worker. He was good at what he did, and was easy to get along with. Just as Ryan was promised the day’s labor came to close at twelve thirty. Ryan of course stayed on his task until it was complete while the shop slowly turned into Thanksgiving Day party replete with catered sandwiches, appetizers, and the customary case of beer. This party also attracted many other people that Ryan had come to know. One of those people soon came to see how he was doing, and to bring him an ice cold beer. Ryan knew exactly what to do in this situation. He welcomed his guest, and thanked him for the beer by opening it up and taking a good hearty swig. As the beer flowed down his throat, so also did the gnawing sadness that he was crushing the dreams of a woman who wondered if this would be a day when Ryan put his family first. He hated himself as he smiled at his friend, and thought about how he was going to get out of this crime. He consoled himself that he would leave after this one beer, but in his mind he knew how he had told himself this a hundred times, and a hundred times he had failed. With the task behind him Ryan moved over to join the party that had now spilled out of the office and was in the shop. He put a sandwich in his hand, and with it came the necessity for another beer. By now the alcohol was clouding Ryan’s judgment to the point that any hope of his wife’s seeing him walk through the front door sober was quickly fading. He didn’t see any harm in having just one more beer. After the third or fourth one he felt as if he didn’t hate himself as much anymore, besides more people were showing up, and they liked him. About an hour into this the phone rang. Somebody answered it, and told Ryan it was for him. Ryan knew who it was before he took the receiver. I was Lonnie, and she was wondering how he was doing, and when he had planned on coming home. She told him how everything was ready, and how she was keeping dinner warm in anticipation of his arrival. On the phone Ryan was sincere; he assured his wife that he was leaving right away, but once he hung up and turned around somebody would engage him in conversation, and he would soon he forget about what he had told Lonnie. Sadly this went on for quite some time. After his wife’s third or fourth attempt to get Ryan to come home she stopped calling, and he was too drunk to even think about it anymore. Eventually the party began to break up, and Ryan realized it was time to start for home. He was one of the last to leave as he got in his truck, and started the engine. In his drunken imaginations he entertained himself with the notion that he could smooth things over with his wife when he got home. He was foolish enough to believe that it was no big deal, and his wife would simply be glad to see him. He would take her in his arms as she quickly forgave him, and forget about the whole thing. He was certain that she would save him a plate of food and welcome him to the dinner table When he arrived home the house looked dark and lonely. Ryan entered through the back door as he always did. Up a short set of stares was the kitchen. He didn’t try to take off his boots because he was too drunk, and in his attempt he would reveal the extent of his condition. With a deep breath he mustered up as much sobriety as he could, and climbed the three steps that led into the kitchen. Lonnie stood before him, washing the last of the dishes. As she looked up to acknowledge his presence Ryan could see the heartache and sadness in her face. Still maintaining some sense of sobriety he put on a smile, and proudly proclaimed “I’m home” This went over like a lead balloon, and Ryan was sure all his wife needed was a warm hug, and a sincere apology. As he stepped forward to make his appeal the alcohol mustered up its own assault, and rushed over him like tidal wave. Ryan passed out on his way to the floor as his lunch box slid across the kitchen hitting the stove and his face smacked the linoleum. He woke up sometime later in a dark empty kitchen, and crawled to his feet. Staggering to his lonely bed he crashed on the mattress and fell back out of consciousness. In the morning he awoke to an empty house. She must have went to her mother’s house, he thought, and taken the children with her. In the kitchen Lonnie had left him a note explaining how she had thrown out the Thanksgiving Day dinner, and was kind enough to clean up the pool of vomit that he produced, and she must have removed his dirty work boots. It didn’t mention where she had gone, or when she would return. Ryan was left to live with himself until she returned. Drowning the hatred he had for himself in alcohol was out of the question. His wife remained distant from that day forward. Later she would tell Ryan that it was at that point she decided that she could no longer stay married to him anymore and filed for a divorce. About a month later he received a petition for divorce, and they settled the matter out of court. Ryan left the home and sent his child support faithfully every month. Over the next few years he learned what it meant to be a father, and through repentance, and faith he came to understand the importance of love and faithfulness. He and Lonnie were able to get along much better, but only after he had quit drinking. About fifteen years later, after their children were raised and on their own, Lonnie hosted a Thanksgiving Day dinner at a new home she had moved into. The children were of course invited, but to Ryan’s great surprise so was he. As the day approached he wondered how Lonnie would relate to him during this new experience. Ryan was at ease when he arrived with his daughter, and grandson. This time he made sure to be there a little early, and he was of course sober. His son arrived shortly after, and there was a joy in the household that he gladly embraced. Lonnie was happily working away in the kitchen as she loved to do, and soon they were all with her enjoying some of the appetizers, and telling each other about their day. Ryan just sat back and observed, only offering a word or two of praise to the efforts of their mother. The family soon migrated to the dining room each member carrying a dish of food. The table was beautifully adorned with place mats, fine silverware, and finely folded cloth napkins. Lonnie had taken great care to make this a very special day, and Ryan was eager to see that she enjoyed every second of it. When the opportunity arose Ryan complimented her on the fine dinner she had made. Ryan had plenty of reasons to commend Lonnie because she had truly done an outstanding job. After the meal was complete they all retired to the living room. Lonnie went to the kitchen to put the turkey and things in the refrigerator, while Ryan went to relax with his two children, and admire all the pictures of their family Lonnie had hung in the room. He was glad that she had taken the trouble to capture those memories on film and placed them on the wall. Lonnie came around soon with pie for desert, and to see if anyone would like a cup of coffee. While Lonnie was away in the kitchen Ryan’s daughter leaned over to ask him if he wanted to get going soon. Only if you need to Ryan said. He saw the joy that Lonnie was experiencing in having them all together and asked if they could all stay for as long as possible. Ryan told his daughter that this was one of those rare occasions when everyone was together, and having a nice time, and how they should hold on to it as long as they can. The night will wear down he said, and we will all go home soon, so let’s just enjoy this moment. Lonnie came back soon to join them in the living room, and Ryan thanked her for a fine evening . He also stood up and walked over to some of the photos on the wall, and thanked Lonnie for giving him to beautiful children. They spent the rest of the evening joyfully remembering the great times their family enjoyed, and they parted with a warm memory to carry with them for the rest of their lives. Ryan felt as though he had righted a very grievous wrong. And hoped that Lonnie knew how much he appreciated a second chance.