| Quote #7
Dan had the good instincts to keep his distance from me—to be like a father to me, but not to assert himself too exactly in the role. Because of a physical caution that Dan expressed when he touched me, he was less restrained with Owen, whose father never once (at least, not in my presence) touched him. I think Dan Needham knew, too, that Owen was not ever handled at home. (5.46)
Physical affection is a really important way through which families express how much they care about one another. Owen doesn't seem to get too much of it at home – it seems like John's family acts more like a family to him than his own parents do.
| Quote #8
I got a half-dozen presents from each relative or loved one—from my grandmother, from my aunt and uncle, from my cousins, from Dan; and more than a half-dozen from my mother. I had looked under the Christmas tree this year, and was touched at Dan's and my grandmother's efforts to match the sheer number of presents—for me—that usually lay under the Eastman's tree in Sawyer Depot. I had already counted them; I had over forty wrapped presents—and, God knows, there was usually something hidden in the basement or in the garage that was too big to wrap. (5.363)
It's amazing how hard everyone in Johnny's family tries to make sure that certain things in his life stay consistently the same after his mom dies. The first holiday or family event that you go through after losing a loved one can be really hard. Johnny's family seems to love him so much that they more than compensate for Tabby's absence – at least when it comes to presents – at Christmastime. It's a little thing, but it's meaningful.
| Quote #9
"I'M JUST WARNING YOU," he said. "IT'S EXCITING TO LOOK FOR YOUR FATHER, BUT DON'T EXPECT TO BE THRILLED WHEN YOU FIND HIM. I HOPE YOU KNOW WE'RE NOT LOOKING FOR ANOTHER DAN!" (6.127)
Why do you think Johnny is looking so hard for his dad? Is it because he merely wants to know where he comes from, or does he think that he'll have a relationship with this person? If it's the latter, Owen suggests, then the search isn't worth it; John already has the best dad ever in Dan Needham.