Unlike any Thanksgiving I’ve ever experienced, this year will be so special because our new grandson Lucas, now 6, is part of our family and we are absolutely relishing being grandparents. And despite Lucas’ language barrier, which is fading everyday as he navigates his new English language in kindergarten, we feel that Lucas is so thankful to be part of a family for the first time in his life.
I remember our Thanksgiving a year ago when we were anticipating Lucas’ arrival within a period of months and trying to picture how it would be with him in our crazy lives. We were at our daughter Stacey’s home with several of her friends and all the conversation revolved around how all of our lives would change. Nothing could have prepared our family for how awesome that change would be.
As this past spring arrived, our wait became a matter of weeks, not months and before we knew it, we were in China, living the dream and embracing Lucas as part of our family. On July 1st when we touched down on American soil, we were quickly helping our special young man get acclimated to his new home and family and his life in China became more of a memory.
Sadly, before Lucas had much opportunity to get used to being in Conn., my dad passed away in mid-July and we were back on planes, thrusting Lucas into a new environment —a funeral and a house of mourning for two days. But his wonderful smile and playful personality helped to lift all our spirits. Lucas became the treasure of Chicago even at this sad time.
For poor Lucas, the remainder of the summer was a string of doctor and dentist appointments to be sure that he had no illnesses or tooth problems before entering kindergarten in late August. My wife and I cringed each time Lucas had a cavity filled —- there were 3—and we were very relieved to learn that the heart murmur that Stacey’s new pediatrician had found was ruled not serious by the cardiovascular specialist from Yale.
Attending Lucas’ kindergarten kickoff picnic in late August at his school in Beacon Falls as grandparents was amazing. He calls us Loyeh (grandpa) and Lolo (grandma), because our Chinese guides started calling us those names while we were getting to know our little guy on the trip. My wife and I really feel special with those names and believe Lucas will keep some reminder of his culture that way.
Just before Labor Day, the little guy entered kindergarten and began his academic journey. We’ve been amazed by his progress just in the last two and a half months. While he struggles with certain English words, Lucas understands everything that people say and he repeats a lot from conversations he is hearing.
Our daughter is already convinced that she has a gymnast or track star on her hands and the wiry little guy is climbing and running and falling like a typical little boy. He loves to run with Loyeh and as long as I have the strength, I’ll gladly keep that up.
We are particularly thankful for our overnight visits from Lucas and just love having him come for dinner and play with the Go Go’s (we hope that’s Mandarin for dogs). He insists on placing their feeding dishes in front of the dogs, holding the leash and the poop bag and helping me clean up.
His eating choices are expanding and he’s pretty much trying everything at least once. But when all else fails, we rely on the carry out noodles, recommended by our good friend Ken from Peking Chinese on Wood Avenue in Bridgeport. When Lucas came for a first visit in 2016, Ken spoke Mandarin to him and helped him overcome a lot of his shyness. We love Peking and always try to keep some noodles in the house along with a little Won Ton soup. Ken has also recommended a great Mandarin style restaurant in Orange, which we are hoping to try soon.
We’ll probably have a bowl of noodles and some Wonton soup available for our little Thanksgiving feast this year, and it will be pure joy to set that extra place at the table. Our only regret is that Lucas’ Aunt Jeri and Uncle Gervasio and Cousin Abdiel were unable to join us... But they will be with us for Lucas’ first Hanukkah celebration in mid-December.
And as we celebrate next week, we are so grateful for our special miracle boy, who has brought so much happiness to our lives.
Steven Gaynes is a Fairfield writer, and his “In the Suburbs” appears each Friday. He can be reached at email@example.com.