The new year of 2009 will find us on the road again. Like in the last few new years we will be with one of our children and their families. The first dawn of 2008 found us with Rhoda and her family on a floating hotel on the Mekong River in Thailand. With the end of another dream vacation we returned to New York for another pleasant but cold week in NY and onward to Arrabeh in time to savor all the citrus fruits and the early spring flowers in our garden and to put in our regular several hours of daily gardening. Hatim continued his daily routine of rising before dawn to work on his memoirs. Except that now he had an excuse: he had signed up with a publisher, Pluto Press of London, and we had added half a dozen chickens to the natural fauna of our garden and the jealous and handsome roaster crowed his head off, the perfect sound to wake up to at the break of dawn every morning.
To break the beautiful calm of spring with its joyous chores for Didi of picking fruits and collecting wild greens from our garden for our meals, planting flower beds and weeding and augmenting her herb garden (Hatim’s chores involve the macho tasks of tending the fruit trees, mending the fence, trimming hedges and rearranging his rock garden) we took off for a weekend visit to Petra with our village friends, Toufiq and Zainab. The archeological marvels carved by the Nabatean Arabs into the rock is matched only by the amazing geological phenomenon of the colorful sandstone formation to yield a gem of a tourist attraction worth flying over from any spot on earth to see. For us it was worth this second visit and would do it at the slightest prompting from any of you, were you to come for a visit. (A convoluted way of extending an invitation, but a sincere one nevertheless!)
On another occasion we broke off from our spring schedule for a four-day visit to Ramallah, our first in over five years, to attend an academic conference held at Inaash-el-Usra and headed by our brother Dr. Sharif Kanaana. He and Pat were so busy with the conference that we put off our visit to their home till the last day. Alas, their home was not accessible that day; Dick Cheney was visiting and the neighborhood was closed off even to its own residents. (Do we really look like terrorists?) Later in the year, in early November, we returned to Ramallah for a book launch (Hatim’s book of memoirs) organized by our friend, Kathy Bergen, at the Friends Meeting House and with the participation of three friends as reviewers, Dr. Mustafa Barghuthi, Dr. Khalil Nakhleh and Dr. Tony Laurance of WHO.
By mid-July we were off again, this time to Hawaii with the feeble excuse of having received an invitation for a traditional Luau on the occasion of the high-school graduation of Corey, the youngest daughter of Kathy Lau, Didi’s close cousin and the flower girl at our wedding who, at the last minute, balked at carrying out her duty. By now she had turned into a most gracious Hawaiian hostess. Both of our children had joined us for the occasion with their families and we had a whale of a time on the beaches both on Oahu and later on Kauai where another pair of cousins, David and Laura Chang, extended their Hawaiian hospitality and Aloha to us.
A second celebratory occasion materialized rapidly with the arrival of Hatim’s book of memoirs, A Doctor in Galilee, with a lecture at the Church of the Crossroads and a reading at Revolution Books with the surprise attendance of so many kamaaina friends and family members. The biggest gain from the occasion was the bonus of making the acquaintance of the energetic local chapter of Friends of Sabeel, Their good efforts boomeranged all the way back to Nazareth where a workshop on ‘A Doctor in Galilee’ was held at the Seventh International Sabeel Conference in Mid November.
By mid-August we headed home to Arrabeh, our village in Galilee, again with a short stopover in NY. Rhoda and our two granddaughters, Malaika and Laiali, followed quickly on our heels for a furious two weeks of visiting, playing and quarrelling with countless cousins, and for pigging out on loads of summer fruits from the garden, the most appreciated among which were the passion fruits for Malaika and the apples for Laiali. Each had to fend for herself and pick her own supply in addition to the standard chores of dishing out wheat and water for the chickens and searching for their eggs. The two cats, Wardi and Kenda, took the backseat this year.
On the Kanaaneh clan front there were innumerable graduations and weddings to attend, compulsory among which were the weddings of two grandnieces. Shireen’s party was especially memorable: The groom is from Jerusalem and the Party was held at the Jericho Intercontinental, a midway locale. We rented a bus to attend and had to beg, explain and negotiate our way back to Israel through multiple checkpoints at the wee hours of the morning.
And there was a week spent snorkeling off of Sharm-el-Sheikh in the company of our nephew, another Dr. Hatim Kanaaneh, and his German wife. It was pure relaxing and savoring of red sea fish.
No less a jovial occasion was hosting our Chinese friends, Michael and Limei and their two children for a week. We felt rejuvenated in the company of the young family as we attempted to cover the widest possible range of sites in the Holy Land and still introduce them to our village culture. As the sports that they actually are, the couple and their two children succumbed to full participation in the traditional celebration of the Eid at the end of the fasting month of Ramadan with our extended family.
Not long after their departure, and having accomplished the autumn feat of preparing and storing our annual supply of carob molasses, pomegranate concentrate, olive oil and cured olives, we were ready to venture back to the USA for a Thanksgiving get-together with our two children and their families. Rhoda and Seth hosted this year. As we sat to dinners the toasts were well-deserved: Earlier in the year Ty had made partner in his accounting firm, PWC, while Rhoda had just received a copy of her newly published second book entitled ‘Surrounded, Palestinian Soldiers in the Israeli Military’.
While in NY Hatim got a long delayed minor medical procedure out of the way and now we all are ready to take off to Morocco for the holidays.
Have a joyous holiday season and a happy, peaceful and prosperous 2009.