Wednesday, July 1, 2015

The Infamous Lebanese Convention aka "LebCon" 2k15

Conversation in the Naifeh House

Hey kids...we will not be going to the Lake this year for July 4th. 
What? Why? Are you kidding me?
Well, we have some of Dad's family coming into town for the "LebCon"!   
"LebCon"? What in the world is "LebCon"? Do we have to go?
It is the annual Southern Federation Lebanese Convention that is being held in Memphis this Summer. 

That is sort of how this whole conversation went with my family when we first discussed this weekend. First of all, July 4th really is a big weekend at the Lake each year. We have fireworks at the Pickwick Dam and fireworks at Grand Harbor. The kids also usually bring friends up. Secondly, we were asking them to give up one of their best weekends at the lake to do something they have never even heard their Dad/family talk about much. It was a hard sell from the start. Judson hasn't attended a convention since he was in high school. But, how could we leave town as we had family flying into town? That was NOT the thing to do. So, Judson and I put the hard sell on the kids and we tried to encourage the kids and we hoped and prayed it would be enjoyable for them! We compromised and decided to leave the convention a day early in order to make it to the Lake for the fireworks on Saturday night. The best of both worlds! 

We have always been members of the "Southern Federation". We get their mail outs and keep up with a lot of Lebanese people through the club. Here is a little bit of information about this organization from their website SFSLAC

The Southern Federation is a cultural organization that was formed in 1931 to promote pure Americanism, to maintain traditional fellowship, heritage and culture, and to encourage educational, civic and charitable projects. Most of our forefathers emigrated from the Levant prior to either Lebanon or Syria becoming nations independent of the Ottoman Empire. Still, as Lebanon is mentioned 71 times in the Bible and Syria has an ancient name and identity far older than the nation, most of our members identify their heritage as Lebanese or Syrian. Although nearly all Syrian and Lebanese immigrants at the time of our founding were, and the vast majority of Americans of Lebanese and Syrian heritage remain, Catholic or Orthodox, and devotion to God, along with love of family, are tenets of our culture, our clubs are social clubs that celebrate our heritage and its contributions to the United States without religious affiliation or political stance, and are open to all regardless of creed or politics.

Please explore our website. You will discover that our Foundation supports charity, culture and scholarship. Our library has articles on the birth of our Federation and the achievements of our Phoenician ancestors. Our ancestors, situated at a crossroads of Europe and Asia, were a melting pot of the ancient world, influencing world culture beyond expectations based on geographic area. Other library articles note that our contributions to, and achievements in, the American melting pot continue that tradition and also transcend our estimated 0.16 – 0.5% of the American population.

A highlight of our Federation is its conventions and conferences. Conventions and conferences not only draw members of our clubs and other individuals from the eighteen states of our Federation, but also many attendees from outside the Federation, and even a few from outside the United States, that gather to network, share values, eat local and traditional foods, and dance to cultural music, as well as conduct Federation business. Whether you share our culture, married into it, or are just a fan, we welcome you all.

The convention was kicked off on Wednesday evening at St. Jude with a Lebanese meal cooked by some of the FINEST cooks around; Anita Harris, Paula Buttross, Rita Gattas, and Becky Kraker. It was held in the St. Jude Dominoes Event Center which was just completed last week. This was only the second time the building had been used;the first time was for a board meeting earlier this week. It was such a beautiful center. St. Jude will get lots of use out of it in the future. 

We entered the building and the theme, "Wild About Our Heritage", was everywhere. These ladies do such a great job at whatever they have their hand in-always! The place mats on the tables were simple yet meaningful. This quote from Kahil Gibran, is all over the St. Jude campus. It is such a sincerely true statement. Just say it over and over a few times...the more times you say it the more it means to you or makes sense to you. Or at least me anyway! That is one fact about most Lebanese people, they LOVE the United States of America BUT they are SO PROUD of their Lebanese Heritage. 

Look at these amazing flowers...what are those containers you see? Well, Chick Peas from the Lebanese grocery of course! How clever! "Sahtein" is Arabic...right before we eat or offer a bite to each other we always say "Sahtein"...basically it means-enjoy-eat up-

     Sound like:  sah-tane
     In Arabic:  صحتين
    Meaning:  literally, "two healths."  The expression is rendered when you offer someone food, or when they offer you food.  

Look at my plate! I obviously did not have ANY trouble digging in to this amazing meal. Those Lebanese women know how to cook! Fresh pita bread, hummus, leban, tabouleh, grape leaves, kibba, meat pies, spinach pies, lentils/enjudra, etc.

Look at our cute little desserts with the Lebanese flag! It was so cream with a Lebanese pastry mixed into it! YUMMY!

More beautiful flower arrangements this time in grape leaves jars from the Lebanese grocery. 

We always have pistachios around...not sure why?


The beautiful building where we had dinner!

The only family in town the first night was Jay &n Kathryn's bunch, Judson, Oney and I, and Christi, Cory, and their three kids. 

Storytelling from someone adopted from Lebanon from an orphanage...she was very animated and you can tell from Oney's face the kids were listening. 

Oney and his Uncle Jay were twinning that night...

On the way out of can't really tell from my picture, but I was trying to get the child, the St. Jude Logo that was glowing on the buildings. 

St. Jude is such a special, amazing, beautiful place. Our city is so BLESSED to have it here. Our Lebanese heritage is so honored to be an integral part of the hospital. My family will always have a special place in our hearts for St. Jude!