Did you notice how early the Christmas displays went up in stores this past year? I saw the first display in September.

Did you notice when people started decorating their homes? Many did it Thanksgiving Day or the day after.

Have you ever noticed that almost as soon as Christmas Day has passed people take down their decorations? It’s almost like they can’t wait to decorate, and then can’t wait to undecorate so they can move on to the next “thing.”

Me? I don’t typically take down my decorations until Jan. 7 each year. Is it because I’m lazy? No. It is because the Christmas season isn’t “officially” over until Jan. 6.

You have heard the song “The Twelve Days of Christmas.” It talks about a partridge in a pear tree, five golden rings, twelve drummers drumming and a whole host of things in between. It’s a fun song which seems to go on and on.

But why 12 days? Because, as mentioned above, Christmas traditionally doesn’t end until the 12th day after Christmas Day.

Tomorrow, Jan. 6, the 12th day after Christmas, is known as Epiphany. In other cultures it is known as “Three Kings Day.” It is the day that traditionally celebrates the arrival of the three wisemen/kings to present their gifts to, and worship, the Son of God. This is where we get our tradition of gift-giving at Christmas. It is the signal for the end of the season.

I encourage you to not be in such a hurry to move beyond the message of Christmas. In our culture we tend to have short memories, focusing on what is most immediately in front of us. As a result we have developed a kind of social amnesia.

Hang on to the message of Christmas for as long as you can. Keep in front of you the tremendous amount of love demonstrated by God when he chose to leave his throne in heaven and come to live among us in Jesus Christ.

That little baby born in Bethlehem was God breaking into our existence to demonstrate just to what lengths – and depths – he would go to express his love for us. Please, don’t be too hasty to store this away until next year. Keep it alive all year round.

The Rev. Mark Broadhead is pastor at Laurel Hill Presbyterian Church and First Presbyterian Church of Crestview.