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When I think of Christmas, I first think of the birth of our savior and Lord.

Then I immediately think of family. What fond memories I have of Christmas morning. Most of my gifts, when I was growing up, required you to quickly hit the door on the way out of the house to play with them.

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Chattanooga Times Free Press President Jeff DeLoach poses in the studio on Wednesday, June 21, in Chattanooga, Tenn.

How times have changed. Today, the streets and backyards stay mostly quiet on Christmas morning, with many of the gifts necessarily connected to some sort of indoor-use electronic device.

In many homes, it also is a tradition for scattered family members to gather, share meals and exchange gifts. It is an opportunity to talk about the deeper meaning of life and to reflect on our many blessings. It is a heartfelt time of year, when we can evaluate our priorities and reminisce about those we loved who have departed life on Earth.

One aspect of Christmas has not changed, however, and never will. It is the day many of us celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. That's why Christmas is — and should be — so widely celebrated.

Christ's birth, though, was only the beginning. And even when he suffered the passion of the cross, it was not the end. Because his sacrifice was God's gift to an unmerited people, as discussed in John 3:16: "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life."

How awesome that is.

The Bible teaches us, in Luke 1:28-32, God dispatched an angel to bring the news to Mary that she would be the mother of the longed-for messiah. "The angel went to her," the passage reads, "and said, 'Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.'

"Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. But the angel said to her, 'Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favor with God. You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the son of the most high.'"

Today, as we mark the day that child was born to Mary and Joseph, Christians across the world and in the Tennessee Valley celebrate Christmas. As we do, I am delighted to tell you that in your newspaper today you will find a special 16-page section that tells the biblical story of the day we celebrate. Some people may want to read the story for the first time, and others may make it a part of the day with their family to recount "the old, old story."

For our part, we simply want to honor the real meaning of Christmas.

We also appreciate the businesses and organizations who share our desire to laud the day and who have sponsored our effort to bring "The Story of Christmas" into your home.

Whether you celebrate Christmas as my family and I do or whether you mark them in another way in your faith, the holidays are a special time of year. However you choose to celebrate, we offer you our best wishes. We also say thank you — for your readership, for your desire to examine life behind the headlines and beyond social media, and for making us a part of your life for so many years. We delight in continuing that valued relationship with you in 2019 — and wish you a joyous new year.

Jeff DeLoach is the president of the Chattanooga Times Free Press.

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