Christmas was always a special time for me growing up in Nazareth, Israel.  At this time of the year, people were open to talking about Jesus, who He was, and why a personal relationship with Him could give joy and peace in the middle of political unrest where neither joy nor peace could be found.  Local hospitals would open their wards for CEF to do Christmas clubs where the children were introduced to Jesus, had a lot of fun, and could find the source of real joy.  Some schools would do the same, and ministry opportunities abounded.  However, as a kid, what I remember most is the food!  We were invited to so many peoples’ homes (and they also came to ours, as hospitality in the Middle East is a HUGE part of the culture), and food was always plentiful.  Eating Middle Eastern food was (and still is) a joyful experience for me, and long discussions would always take place around food such as why we can have joy and peace from a personal relationship with Jesus, the Author of all joy and peace.

One interesting food memory I have comes from when I was about seven. My family and I went to a neighbor’s home to wish them merry Christmas.  As we gathered around the food, I realized we were being served a delicacy: ground raw beef. As our neighbors watched us, excited to share this delicacy with us, the rest of my family tried to figure out how to stomach this dish. Suddenly under the table, I felt something squishy pressed into my hand. One by one, my family members surreptitiously passed me their raw beef. I scarfed it down joyfully. Yes, Christmas provided joyful food experiences! What are some of your favorite Christmas memories from you childhood? Sound off in the comments or on one of our social media pages.

~Jonathan King