January 20

I usually enjoy Petula Dvorak’s common sense, but her column on leavingdecorations up well past Christmas [“Christmas in January riles up the Grinches,” Metro, Jan. 17] was a reminder that thoughtfulness is also needed.

Rituals express the joy in our lives. If you come home to a banner wishing you a happy birthday, that lifts the heart. But if that banner stays up for the next three months, it loses all meaning and becomes just more clutter. For rituals to be special, their timing needs to be special. Here’s a thought experiment: Imagine that the American custom was to leave winter holiday decorations up until July 4 and then start the Christmas shopping season on July 5. Boring!

Dunstan Hayden, Washington

One person’s pretty Christmas lights may become an annoyance to someone else after they’ve been shining through his or her bedroom window for three weeks. Personally, I don’t care whether people leave Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer on their front lawn all year. But I’d prefer Rudolph not be illuminated and that his nose be turned off at bedtime.

In addition to light pollution, there is the small issue of energy use. We say something should be done about climate change, we tell our kids to turn the lights off when they leave the room, but we can’t be bothered to stick a timer on the cord powering hundreds of lights on the house. Quick question: Exactly what holiday spirit is being conveyed, and to whom, at 4 in the morning?

Stephen Davies, Takoma Park