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As is tradition, youngest members of the Chattanooga Boys Choir will close the first half of the show with a Nativity scene.

I love Christmas.

It was among the greatest gifts my mother ever gave me.

She grew up poor with a rough family life and an abusive father. As a child, she hated Christmas; as a parent, she made sure her child loved it.

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Jay Greeson

And I do, for so many reasons.

I love Christmas because it's the birth of my Savior. You can love Christmas for whatever reason you choose, and feel free to celebrate it for whatever reason you pick. For my family, however, there is no such thing as X-mas or Happy Holidays. We say "Merry Christmas," and do so with gladness in our voice and a smile in our heart.

I love Christmas for how it brings out the best in all of us. We give more, we laugh more, we smile more; we are the people we want to be all year long at Christmas. Check out the efforts around town to raise money for those less fortunate this time of the year.

I love Christmas because of the feeling of giving — be it charitable for someone you barely know or for the person you love most in this life — is the best present of all. In fact, my 9-year-old asked me this weekend what I liked best about Christmas, and I said the joy of giving to others.

I love Christmas because of the unbridled excitement of children, who likely answered in a similar fashion to my 9-year-old when asked what he likes best about Christmas: "Spending time with family... and opening presents."

I love Christmas because of the music. Yes, the traffic can be bad and the mall can be a headache, but as you are circling the parking lot and "The Little Drummer Boy" comes on the radio, I challenge you not to smile.

I love Christmas because it means another chance to see the great movies that deliver life lessons [if you don't like "It's a Wonderful Life," well, that's on you] and life-changing laughs [if you are not familiar with Cousin Eddie, then you need to watch "Christmas Vacation" sometime today] and everything in between.

I love Christmas because it makes us remember how blessed we are and how we should feel obligated to help others. If we paused for a moment and tried to live every week as we do in the weeks leading up to Christmas, we would all be better off.

I love Christmas because even the worst of news can be salvaged with the realization of salvation and for believing in something better. Take the story of Eric Schmitt-Matzen, a professional Santa who said he does 80 or so events a year. Schmitt-Matzen told the Knoxville News Sentinel of a terminally ill 5-year-old who he visited in the hospital.

The unnamed boy asked how he would know where he was going after he died. Schmitt-Matzen told the child to tell them he was "Santa's No. 1 Elf," and they would allow him to come in to heaven.

I love Christmas because that story makes me cry and smile, knowing there is nothing worse than a terminally ill child, but if there is a perfect way for a 5-year-old to go to heaven it's after being in Santa's arms and opening a Christmas present.

Merry Christmas indeed.

Contact Jay Greeson at jgreeson@timesfreepress.com and 423-757-6343.

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