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Remembering the reason this Christmas morn

We arise this morning, wipe the sleep from our eyes and await the excitement that lies before us.

Footsteps of children running anxiously around the house bounce off our eardrums like the Grinch dancing down Main Street of Whoville while banging on a bass drum.

We slowly push off the covers, fighting back the desire to drown out the noise bustling throughout the house by pulling the covers over our head.

We take that first, ominous step out of bed, testing the temperature of the carpet to see just how cold it is going to be. Still, we plunge ahead, leaping all in to thrive in the joy of this glorious Christmas morn.

As we slept, visions of sugar plums, Red Ryder BB guns and whatever "can't miss, hot item" television tells us we can't live without filled our heads, and children's, too.

Santa hasn't disappointed again, you're sure of that. Neither have mom or dad, with wallets showing the signs of an ever-growing holiday shopping season that sometimes begins before Thanksgiving.

We make our way to the living room, where the Christmas tree serves as a staple of most households this time of year -- especially today, Christmas Day.

But as we all converge on that green pine littered with glittery ornaments and lights, we pause.

Instead, we find a manger, filled with nothing but straw. No baby wrapped in swaddling clothes. No wise men. No Mary. No Joseph.

Just emptiness.

We are oblivious to everything. We are in a bubble, looking at what once was.

And here we stand, on this morning, in front of the manger -- the one that bore the greatest story ever told -- with a stark reminder.

Angels we have heard on high, and we know this is the reason for the season. God's gift was the greatest present we ever could receive, and we are surrounded by other gifts on either side of us he has provided us with -- family.

The manger might be empty, the tree might be gone. But this, this is the reason we celebrate Christmas: A simple manger in the darkness.

That's where it began.

On this wonderful Christmas morning, take time to treasure the true presents we have received.

And remember where the heart of the season belongs -- and began -- in that wooden manger sitting before you.

Nick Schwien is interim managing editor at The Hays Daily News.

nschwien@dailynews.net