No matter one’s political leanings in this volatile world of ours, Thanksgiving always reminds us to take a step back and appreciate family and the other valuable people in our lives, good health and the few days we have off to recharge. I embrace that prescription wholeheartedly and truly look forward to the holiday.

Despite the fact that we are in the midst of impeachment hearings for President Trump and the country seems more divided than ever, I am thankful to be an American and to be living in a free and wonderful country filled with opportunities. And no matter the outcome of these hearings and a possible trial in the Senate, I remain grateful for the established system of checks and balances that ensure that democracy will prevail.

For our family, this has absolutely been a year to give thanks. At this time last year, we learned for the first time that our older daughter Stacey, a single mom, was planning to try a new in-vitro procedure that could give our very special grandson Lucas a sibling. Adopting Lucas had been a special miracle just a year before and now there was the potential of another child.

This year, we were indeed blessed with our second grandson Caleb in August, making this year a miracle beyond words. The entire experience has been pure joy and Lucas has become an incredible big brother. My wife and I have given thanks a hundred times over for the thrill of being grandparents twice in two years.

Our younger daughter Jeri and her husband came out for a wonderful visit in August and we were grateful to have them with us so soon after Caleb was born. Jeri truly enjoyed being an aunt and sharing our joy. We miss not having them closer — they live in Ann Arbor, Michigan, but we have promised to visit probably next summer for the town’s annual art fair, an amazing experience.

We remain so thankful for our friends, who were so supportive during Stacey’s pregnancy and who have always been there for us throughout the years we’ve lived in Fairfield and now Stratford. They are never too busy or too disinterested to take a phone call or provide a listening ear for my wife or me. We often chuckle that we’ve all been through the best and the worst of times with family experiences and health and we can still laugh about it.

I can’t say enough about being grateful for good health. When I turned 75 this past summer, I had a bit of trepidation about crossing that bridge into even older age, but I have been pleasantly surprised by my consistent energy. I’m still working full time in a charter school in Bridgeport, at the Fairfield University Bookstore and as a tutor with exchange students from China.

I am also thankful that my wife has maintained her good health over the past couple of years, despite some mild “bumps in the road.” Her best Thanksgiving news was seeing her cardiologist a few weeks ago and having him say that she doesn’t need to return for another 9 months. That was music to her ears.

We have been able to travel more in the past couple of years than we’ve ever traveled and our combined good health has enabled us to do that. I can only hope by next Thanksgiving that we will have taken another trip. This time we are hoping to visit Montreal.

This Thanksgiving, as we have in the past couple of years, we are celebrating the holiday with my wife’s family in Virginia. It is a long drive, especially on the day before the holiday, but seeing how excited Lucas is to be with his cousin’s makes it all worthwhile. And this holiday will be Caleb’s introduction to the family. They can’t wait to see this new sibling.

Of course, there will be so much food and we are bringing the wine, so I have to break my Weight Watchers (WW) rules just for the holiday. But at our upcoming meeting this weekend, I’m sure the group will share many strategies for getting through Turkey Day without falling far off the wagon. I can pretty much hold my own, and I will be at the gym this weekend, so I hope that will help.

The bottom line for me is to remain grateful, not just for this holiday, but for the entire year. I need to always find something for which I can be thankful and positive about. I hope others can share the same goal.

Steven Gaynes is a Fairfield writer, and his “In the Suburbs” appears each Friday. He can be reached at