“Happy birthday Jesus.  Yes I am a day early.  But hey, I am giving out a big handful of gifts to people in your honor tomorrow so lots will be going on.

Oh by the way, last time we talked you gave me that great gift idea for my Nephew Joe .  I did in fact get it for him; of course you already knew that.  Your divine side, I know.

Um, I didn’t mail it until Thursday though, so any help on that front is appreciated.  I know I know.”

My Thoughts on Christmas

Christmas, a Christian tradition, has been broadly adopted and is celebrated throughout the world. It is more a season now, not just a day; many different meanings to many different people.

To me, it is a festive time, a season of giving, a break before the end of the calendar year.   It is a time for friends, family, and festivities. It is a time where people find commonality and think about peace if only for a fleeting moment.

I recognize that to some, Christmas is a time of stress, debt, or loneliness.  It may be a season that points out what families don’t have, what parents can not provide, no matter how hard they try or want to.

For believers, I believe Christmas is most importantly about celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ.  I also believe the theology that Christmas is far more than a birthday, but I will not go into that here considering this is a cat, food, travel, and airplane blog.

Getting to Know Jesus in the Holy Land

Young Jesus

If you are a believer, or a history/archeology/culture buff, a trip to the Holy Land is powerful and insightful.  It’s a wonderful experience for the season.

Last April during Lent, I wrote about walking in the footsteps of Jesus in Jerusalem leading up to the Crucifixion and Resurrection.  The walk is called the Via Dolorosa (or the “Way of Grief”) and it is the Stations of the Cross where they actually happened.

I still have not made it to Bethlehem, though I have been to the Nazareth and Galilee region three times.  This region is great to better know Jesus, both his human and his divine sides.

A few highlights for me include:

Nazareth – Church of the Annunciation

This Church is on the site of the cave-home where the Virgin Mary lived.  It was here that the Archangel Gabrielle told Mary she would become the mother to the Son of God.

Church of the Annunciation
Church of the Annunciation
Inside Church of the Annunciation
Alter before the steps to the Grotto
Virgin Mary Home
Steps leading to Virgin Mary’s Cave-Home


Capharnaum – Home of Simon Peter and Were Jesus Taught

Capharnaum (or Capernam) is an ancient city that sat on the Sea of Galilee.  Seeing the ruins with an interpretive guide was an enlightening experience.

Not only is this the town where Simon Peter lived, it is also the town where a younger Jesus came into the synagogue to teach and said, “I am the bread of life.”

Looking into the House of St Peter
Looking into the house of St Peter (under the glass in the center)

Church of the Multiplication

This church is on the site where Jesus fed 5000 people with 5 loaves of bread and 2 fish.  The stone in the picture is the actual stone where Jesus placed the bread.

The question comes up of how we know these are the actual spots where events occurred.  The original church was erected before 380 AD, and even today people are pretty good at passing down through generations exact spots where things happened.  It really does not matter, but these venerated spots have a high likelihood of being the correct location.

Multipliction of fish and loaves

Baptismal Site on the Jordan River

Mark 1 9 10

The most popular baptismal site in the Holy Land is called Yardenit on the Jordan River. Though it is the same river, it is probably not the site where John the Baptist baptized Jesus, but that is OK.  It is beautiful and spiritual and very much alive with hope and goodness.

St Peter’s Fish

Seeing all these site made me hungry and what else would you eat in Galilee other than St Peter’s fish?  This is the same species from the time of Jesus and the fisherman.  St. Peter’s Fish is a tilapia, though unlike what we normally get in the United States, it is a wild tilapia not farm-raised.  I liked it so much I had it for both lunch and dinner.


Closing Thoughts

There are around 7,600,000,000 of us humans on this planet.  We all need to take care of one another.  Merry Christmas and please pray for peace people everywhere.


Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, and Happy New Year to all

Letting me be a part of your life through my website is such a wonderful gift and I thank you for it.


Featured image is from a church in Nazareth region.  I took the picture of the painting.  All other photos in this section were taken by me or of me.