Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Long Lost Family!

FREE WIFI! Oh, how I love you. Well, when you work... :)

So. Some of you know I'm in Europe on vacation right now (which I'll blog about the travel later...), but I HAD to share this (assuming the intermittent internet reception lets me).

We FINALLY met some of our extended Syrian family!

I'm not sure exactly how it all came about, but one thing's for sure, Facebook made it all possible :) I know, I know, Facebook has it's evils, but in this particular instance, I feel nothing but complete gratitude!

My grandfather, the one that passed a few months ago, was from Syria. (My mom's maiden name is Azar.) It wasn't until Facebook that we realized some of those Syrian relatives had moved to Sweden, right outside Stockholm. And my uncle, the brilliant uncle he is, contacted our cousin, Firas, the moment he'd made plans to come to Stockholm. Through Facebook emails and photos, we decided to meet at a restaurant. 

No one really knew what to expect. We've all grown up, well, continents apart. Not to mention, being, you know, multi-lingual Americans (cough-cough), we weren't sure if/how we'd be able to communicate, but alas! At least they were prepared, and spoke incredible English (Note: Nina speaks Syriac, Arabic, Dutch, Swedish, and English. *slaps head* Yeah. I felt a little culture-centric, and not in a good way.) 

The incredible part was they actually felt like family! We talked and talked and talked, and laughed, and reminisced (Firas and Ramih's father, Issa, came to stay with my grandfather in the USA when my uncle and mom were kids...) and they invited us to their home for a traditional Syrian dinner the following night.

From left to right: Annie (my sis), Me, Nina, Firas, Ramih, Uncle Alex
Christian and Nina

Little Issa and food!

So, this is what Nina "whipped together" : Fatosh (salad), Malfof (like Domas) and cosa (stuffed squash), humus (HOMEMADE!), kebe (a meat dish), basterma (dried meat), and harise for dessert. Everything tasted so fresh and was bursting with flavor. My mouth was in ecstasies! Nina even sent me home with little baggies of spices, though I'm not sure anything I make will come even remotely close to what she'd cooked. And just as we'd cleared our plates, she had been ready with another heaping spoonful! Still full this morning... :)

Firas, Christian, Issa, Nina, Gabriel, Ramih, Annie, Uncle A, Me
Here's everyone, and I'll explain the connection for those of you that might care (family trees have been known to cause massive headaches...): Ramih and Firas are my third cousins. Their father, Issa, is Uncle Alex's second cousin. And Issa's father, Fahed, and my uncle's father (my grandpa), were first cousins. See? So simple :) While we were there, we even Skyped with Issa, who lives in Syria! My uncle said he looked just as he remembered him. Nina is Firas' wife (they have two beautiful children, Issa and Christian), and Gabriel is Nina's brother.

They tried teaching us some Arabic (and laughed when we butchered the throat sounds). I think we came out saying a few words that might be recognizable. Maybe.

All of them are such wonderful people, and I'm so glad to finally know them! Now I just wish we didn't live thousands of miles apart. Thank goodness for the internet to help bridge the distance!

Thank you, Nina, Firas, Ramih, Issa, Christian, and Gabriel, for such an unforgettable experience...you truly are a wonderful family! Until we see you again... :D


  1. Now this is a great true story! WITH a happy ending! What a wonderful experience for you and Annie.

  2. Wow! That looks like such a blast. Congratulations on your family's good fortune.

  3. Yay! That is so exciting! So wonderful to meet and be with family ( : Jealous over the spice thing, too... I love to try new flavors!

    P.s. I blog awarded you, lady ( :

  4. thank you barb for everything and telling and sharing our story att your blogg!oyr are wonderfull i liked you a very much.

  5. So awesome to travel and to gather with family! So cool! (= I'm totally into the family tree thing. Gotta know the fam to know yourself.

  6. That is SO awesome! Yay facebook! Amazing how family still feels like family, even the first time you meet. I seriously have goose bumps right now. I LOVE this story!!

  7. That’s bad A... that sounds like a wonderful time.

    Thx for sharing your trip with us—I am sooo jealous.

  8. Oh, you guys are so wonderful! Thanks for the comments!

    Norma - Thank you!!! I love REAL happy endings, too :)

    Matthew - Thank you!

    Julie - Oh, don't you just LOVE seasonings! I had to pack them special so it didn't seep into my clothing. I can't be smelling like a spice rack, lol! And thanks for the award, stinker ;D

    Jo - I completely agree!!

    Peggy - Aww, thanks :)

    Jeff - Don't be jealous...GO GO GO! :)

  9. What a wonderful experience your family gathering arranged by the great and gegarious Alex! I have so enjoyed following your trip through all the photos and journaling. You are making quite the memories. Come see me in KY!

  10. How totally cool! And internet is very good for some things... this being one very prime example. What an interesting heritage! How much fun it must've been. Your photos are so crisp and gorgeous from your trip... you must be a photographer or have an amazing camera. I've been catching up on your posts backwards... I feel so bad I haven't been by sooner. I've added your blog to my blogroll so I can be sure to visit more often. Truth is, I've been a bad blogger lately too... barely getting in 2 posts a week. But loving our new home and still getting organized. So glad you had such a great trip and so excited to see your eBook cover!!!

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