By: Luz Jimenez

Christmas is my favorite time of the year. The festivities, the special climate, and the joy of this celebration cause me to have an incredible feeling of well-being. Since I was a girl, I have loved Christmas! I have always liked to cook for the people that I love. I show them how important they are to me, offering them a delicious dish made with my own two hands, to celebrate this significant time of year. In my country, Venezuela, we usually bake and share a special bread stuffed with jam, olives, and raisins, called "Pan de Jamon” (Ham Bread). It’s a crunchy dough with a soft touch that mixes various sweet, salty and delicious flavors all in one bite. It’s perfect to accompany the celebrations of Christmas and New Year's.

After cancer, I got my colostomy and I thought my traditional Christmas dishes were going to be left out. Fortunately, this is a dish that I can enjoy without any damage to my digestion and after cancer I learned how to do it in my own home! Now I can share this dish with greater love to my loved ones!

Here’s the photo of the first Ham Bread that I baked after my ostomy surgery.
After I survived an aggressive cancer that threatened my life at age 37, everything gained new meaning. For me, celebrating Christmas means the end of a year full of mercies and the beginning of a new year full of life hopes. I celebrate with love and joy the coming of our Savior, my favorite day in the world, and my heart is filled with greater gratitude and desire to share with all the love of Jesus and His mercy for giving me new life!

I celebrate every Christmas, after being a survivor, with greater intensity and with greater emphasis on the most common details that were previously insignificant. Sharing the smallest moments of happiness with those I love, fills my heart with joy for being alive!