Friday, February 5, 2016

2015 in Review

I am not sure when was the last time that we kept this traditional way of sending season’s greetings and of sharing our information with friends around the world. This time last year we were both too busy with putting the final touches to Hatim’s collection of short stories to meet this obligation. That led to the single most exciting event of the 2015 for us: On February 24 The Columbia University Center for Palestine Studies hosted the official launch of Chief Complaint: a Country Doctor’s Tales of Life in Galilee. Here is the link to a full report about the event:

This was followed by a series of book events in the DC area (where the publisher, Just World Books, is headquartered) and in the West Coast, mainly the San Francisco Bay area. One of the most memorable venues that this permitted us to visit was the Rachel Corrie Foundation in Olympia, Washington. Here are some reflections on this pilgrimage:

Likewise, our book tour meanderings afforded us revisits with friends and new friendships in Arizona. Later, we had exciting and well-attended book events in Nazareth, Jaffa, Jerusalem, Ramallah and Amman. Somehow, these talks, (some were in Arabic,) had a value-added meaning because of the intimate atmosphere, especially in Nazareth. Towards the end of the year the book was shortlisted for the 2015 Palestinian Book Awards. The London-based Middle East Monitor, the sponsors of the competition, hosted Hatim and other finalists at a two-day literary event in London for announcing the winners. The short list of finalists was as far as we got.
Here is the link to the publisher’s page about the book:

But our life this year had its negative side as well: In 2015 we suffered the loss of our dear friend in Hawaii, Dr. Djon Lim, Hatim’s college roommate and Indonesian brother who had convinced him to move to Hawaii in 1962, married and settled in Hilo to anchor our lifelong love affair with the Hawaiian Islands. Here is a piece about our memorable goodbye:

In between the exciting book events, and having survived the loss of Brother Djon, we made use of our time in the usual manner of tending our garden, picking and distributing its fruits and hosting our grandchildren and their parents in our home in Galilee. In addition, when in the states we went along with whatever chores our hosting children assigned us; In New York we contributed to the establishment and maintenance of Rhoda and Seth’s beautiful roof garden, a veritable slice of heaven right in the center of Lower East Side. We also shared in the pleasure of a couple of weeks Spring vacation in Cancun, Mexico.

Earlier in the year, while with Ty’s family in San Jose, California, we contributed a little to the packing and storage activity in preparation for the move they planned to their larger new home. So this fall we arrived to grander and more spacious accommodations and we shared in hosting a tribal gathering of all three branches of the Kanaaneh clan in Northern California on the occasion of Thanksgiving: Ty, Tariq and Jamil’s families including Tariq’s parents, Pat and Sharif. It was quite a get-together in the best of native traditions.

As a going away present, the week we left San Jose, our fourth-grader granddaughter, Callia, was in the news. She had entered a national level “Flaunt it, Don’t Hide it” writing competition and came in at first place for her fourth grade level. We couldn’t be prouder.
Here is the link:

And now, as the year ends and with the holiday season upon us, we find ourselves again in the beautiful company of both of our children and their families in Hawaii. And to round it all off, activists at the University of Hawaii are hosting two additional book events for Chief Complaint. But that will already be in 2016.

To guard against the likelihood of mistaking this year in the life of this Palestinian family for one approaching normalcy, here is the link to an illustrative episode on the eve of Christmas:

So, have a great holiday season and a peace-filled new year. And do excuse us for all the links, evidence, if such is needed, that life continues to be quite eventful and that the career switch from medicine to writing is taking hold.

Didi and Hatim Kanaaneh

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