Friday, November 23, 2007

Thankful to be so Thankful!

Thanksgiving 2007

Dear Friends and Family,

In thinking over our many blessings this year, it came to me that I am thankful for being thankful, that is, I am thankful that I have so many things for which to be thankful and for the ability to recognize them as such. There are those in this world who know hunger and thirst. We have known neither. There are those who lack shelter. We have never lacked a roof over our head. There are those who suffer under oppressive political regimes and live in fear for their lives. We have never experienced what that oppression and fear is like.

Beyond lacking necessities, there are those who lack the ability to obtain the “non-necessity necessaries” that make our lives both interesting and rewarding. We have never lacked these either. There are those who want to travel but lack the means. We lived in countries around the world for 25 years—Spain, Italy, Canada, Japan. We visited dozens of others. We travel around the states virtually at will to see family and friends.

Perhaps saddest of all, there are those who lack companionship. The world is full of lonely people. We have friends and family who care about us and enjoy spending time with us. This is an incalculable source of richness and joy in our lives. May we never take any of these things for granted, but above all, may we never take each other for granted and the love and friendship we share.

—We love and appreciate all of you!—

Moreover, may we find a way to befriend those lonely ones all around us, bringing the warmth of human companionship to their hearts.

May this Thanksgiving and the days, weeks, and months ahead, be the most thankful of all our lives. May the One who makes all this thankfulness not only possible but obligatory grant us the desires of our heart to share the love that comes from above one with another.

Love from Denver

A Turkey By Any Other Name

The following is an article I wrote some years ago on Thanksgiving that may be of interest:

Thanksgiving Day 2004

Dear Family and Friends,
The column that follows is my latest Hebrew "Word of the Week,” which I have been writing for a few months. Also, there's a "Rest of the Story" to this column relating to our family and its India connection. (Note for non-family: Kathy’s father and his five siblings grew up in India at a school in the Himalayas for missionary kids. Coincidentally, Kathy’s mother grew up at the same school, where she met Kathy’s father!)
It seems that the meaning of Tarnegol Hodu in Hebrew is Indian Chicken. (Through a delightful coincidence the word Hodu also means "Give Thanks,” in addition to referring to the nation of India. Our Jewish friends eat turkey (Indian Chicken) during Purim in reference to King Ahasuerus, who reigned from India (Hodu) to Ethiopia (Cush) according to the first verse of the book of Esther.
Many languages use variations of the English word Turkey (we use the same word for the bird as for the country). Interestingly, in Turkey, turkey is called Hindi, which means "coming from India"! In Catalan, it is gall dindi or Indian cock. In Basque it is Indian hen. Many languages refer to turkey as Indian chicken, rooster, or hen. In Russian it is Indiuk and in Yiddish Indik (both relating to India). Danish, Dutch, and Finnish, among other languages, refer to the bird using the name of a town on the southern Indian coast (Danish kalkun).
Some languages go far afield of either Turkey or India. Portuguese calls the bird Peru, in reference to another country a world away. Standard Arabic makes reference to India, but two dialects call the bird "Ethiopian" or "Abyssinian" roosters. Malaysians call it "Dutch chicken." Finally, in Macedonian, the word for the bird is misir (the Turkish word for Egypt—Arabic for Egypt is Misr and Hebrew is Mitzrayim).

A few languages pay no attention to country. In Chinese, the term "fire chicken" may come from the red coloring around the face. Japanese shichimenchou means something like "seven-faced bird." This may make reference to the various colors reflected by the turkey’s wattle.
Spanish pavo comes from the incorrect association of the bird with the peacock (which could also be the source of the India connection. Pavo Cristatus is a large pheasant native to India.) It was our mistaken identity of the turkey as a type of Guinea fowl (and a belief that those birds originated in the country of Turkey) that led to our word for the bird.
Now that I have everyone thoroughly confused, let me mention one more delicious (!) irony. The turkey is a native North American bird, yet most languages of the world associate it with India. Seems a certain Italo-Spanish explorer made a similar mistake in the 15th century! So we have one more Native American designated with an Indian misnomer!
Having traveled around the world linguistically, let's get back to Hebrew and remember that Hodu also means "Give Thanks," so the next time some jokester casually wishes you a "Happy Turkey Day," remember that he or she is really saying “Happy Hodu Day” or "Happy Giving-Thanks Day!"
Hope this whets your appetite for a juicy bird this Thanksgiving—no matter what you call it! Happy Thanksgiving, Jim


Davar HaShavua
The Word of the Week
I love Thanksgiving. It is the one holiday set aside by our American forefathers (and foremothers!) to give thanks to the Creator for all the blessings bestowed upon us.

This week’s word is Hodu. Hodu in Hebrew means “Give thanks,” as in “Hodu L’Adonai Ki Tov Ki L’Olam Chasdo.” (Give thanks to the LORD for He is good; His Mercy is forever). (Psalm 107:1 among many other references.)

The root of Hodu is Yadah, meaning to praise, to give thanks (from the root Yad, hand). The word may have to do with throwing up the hands in praise and thanksgiving. The word itself holds an interesting lesson. It is spelled Yod Dalet Hei. The middle letter means “door,” and the outer two letters (Yod Hei) spell the shortened name of God (Yah). Thus thanksgiving (praise) is the door to the living God. Also, the meaning element of the letter Yod is "hand" and of Hei is "breath." Thus we enter the door of praise by using both hands and breath!

The final Thanksgiving lesson comes from our dear Hebrew teacher, Ori. She taught us that the word Hodu in Hebrew also means turkey! Ironically, a turkey is a Tarnegol Hodu or (Chicken of Giving Thanks)! One of the many things for which we can be thankful this Thanksgiving season is the Hebrew language, which holds so many delightful lessons for us. All for now.
Shavua Tov, Chaverim!END OF QUOTE

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Happy Birthday, Jono!

Six years ago today, we received a phone call from Australia saying that our first grandchild, Jonathan Santiago, was born. Here were two of the first pictures we received through the miracle of the Internet.

And a short time later came a picture of mother and child.

Jonathan comes from a Hebrew name meaning, "The LORD has given," while Santiago is a Spanish name, which in English means "St. James." Ultimately, in a rather obscure way, the name James derives from the Hebrew name Ya'akov (Jacob), who is later renamed Israel. He fathers a nation through whom the world is to be blessed. So we could conceivably interpret Jonathan Santiago as "the LORD has given one through whom the world will be blessed." We pray that Jono may be the fulfillment of his name in the most blessed and complete way.

The picture on the left below shows Sabba (Jono's paternal grandfather) and on the right is Jono at an equivalent age. Is there any resemblance?

And here's the birthday boy in a great picture taken just the other day by his mom and posted on her blog.

We wish you, Jono, a very Happy Birthday! Love, Sabba and Nanny

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Happy Birthday, Jimmy

Tonight we celebrate Jimmy's birthday. It was 32 years ago today, at the Rota Naval Hospital in southern Spain that Jimmy came into this world. Since then, he has spent nearly a third of his life in that wonderful country, as well as residing in Italy, Canada, Japan, and even some time in his own country!
Here he is with Bonnie in front of the hospital in which both of them were born.

At a much earlier birthday party for Jimmy, Bonnie watches her brother blow out his candles.

Here is Jimmy at another celebration with the ever-present Siamese cat, a part of our family's tradition that started in Kathy's childhood. Her parents had the first Moti (means "pearl" in Hindi; the cat was named for an acquaintance of Kathy's mother in India).

Jimmy was always active in sports: baseball, soccer, and swimming.

Living overseas as much as we did, we always jumped at the chance to participate in family events. Here is Jimmy lighting the candles at "Aunt" Lissa's wedding. Lissa and Antonio and their boys have been an often present and very blessed and welcome part of our lives on two continents.

Speaking of family, we always enjoy spending time with Uncle John. Here is Jimmy sitting on Uncle John's cart, on a day his dad and UJ were playing golf. This was the occasion of the famous "hot dog incident," in which the young lad dropped his hot dog into one of the many creeks we crossed throughout the course of the day. Jimmy has since taken up the game, and we have enjoyed some pleasant evenings together on the links.

No real story here. I just love the picture. Dad and Jimmy posing for a picture, probably either in Ohio or Spain, but I'm really not sure.

A school portrait that manages to capture his ultimately indomitable positive spirit.

Portrait of the photographer as a young man. This was taken on the day of his sister, Ellie's, wedding, on which he took the wedding pictures.

That same day, a nice picture of Jimmy and Ellie.

Labor Day 2007 at Lissa and Antonio's cabin near Estes Park. Jimmy on the camera taking the group picture. (Doby's helping!)

And here is today's birthday boy on that same day, with Stephanie and his sister, Hannah.