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Chattanooga Times Free Press President Jeff DeLoach / Staff photo by C.B. Schmelter

The holidays always bring family and friends closer. Most of us see some family members at Christmastime whom we see on a regular basis. Others we see a few times a year, maybe even only once at Christmastime.

For individuals we see on a regular basis, the interaction is comfortable. Conversation is easy, and we pick up where we left off last week, joking with them, giving them a big ol' hug and telling them we love them.

For those we see or talk to only once a year at Christmas, we love them and are excited to see them, but in some cases, our relationship with them may not be as strong or familiar. We don't know what has been going in their lives, what their job situation is like, how their children are doing and what keeps them up at night. However, we have a true desire to catch up with them and want to hear how things are going, what happened since we saw them last and are genuinely interested in rekindling our relationship with them.

My guess is you can relate to what I am saying. You already may have categorized a few people into each of these situations. You may be thinking, "Yep, I see 'him' only once a year, and I wish I saw him more often." With others, you think, "Yes, I see 'her' so often I could guess what she had for dinner." At last year's family Christmas get-together, you may have committed to someone that you would see them more often so that the two of you could build a closer relationship. But daily life gets busy and, well, here it is Christmastime again, and you are seeing them for the first time since last year.

Similarly, Christmas may be a time when we rekindle our relationship with Jesus. After all, Christmas is a celebration of his birth. We may increase our church attendance, open our Bible a little more and find ourselves talking with him more frequently. Before we know it, we have begun to rebuild that relationship. We are reminded how much a relationship with Jesus means to us and how satisfying it is. We may even commit to spend more time with Him in the coming year. If we honor that commitment, by the time Christmas rolls around next year, our relationship with Jesus will be stronger, more rewarding and He will be more familiar to us. Something to think about, isn't it?

Consider putting it to a test. Easter, when we celebrate the death and resurrection of Jesus, is about four months away, April 12, 2020. What if we committed to work on our relationship with Christ more regularly between now and Easter? If we did that, we would find Easter to be more rewarding, and it may encourage us to work on our relationship all the way to Christmas.

When I think of Christmas, I am reminded the birth of Christ was the beginning of our salvation realized by the passion of Jesus Christ, which is spoken about 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."

We learn the genesis of this blessing in Luke 1:28-32 when an angel appears to Mary, the mother of Jesus: "The angel went to her and said, 'Greetings, you 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.'"

On the day we now celebrate as Christmas, that child named Jesus was born to Mary and Joseph. In your newspaper today is a special 16-page section that tells that biblical story.

We want to help acknowledge the real meaning of Christmas and, if this is your faith tradition, provide you another way to gather with your family and share the story. Even if it is not, we hope you'll consider reading it. We believe you will enjoy it.

We're grateful for the businesses and organizations that sponsored it. Without their support, it would not have been possible.

Finally, we wish all readers a blessed holiday season and a joyous 2020. And we hope you will build those relationships you wish to build.

Contact Jeff Deloach, president of the Chattanooga Times Free Press, at jdeloach@timesfreepress.com.

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