It has become a common complaint that the holiday season has become too commercialized and too prolonged. Stores often begin to show Christmas, Hanukah and Kwanza displays before Halloween. Community groups begin celebrating year-end holidays before the Thanksgiving turkeys are gone. The day after Thanksgiving has become known for the holiday shopping frenzy.

Do you think the holiday season has become too commercialized and too long? What do you think is the "true meaning" of the holidays?

The Christmas holiday has become the biggest event of the year. Of course it has become too commercialized and too long. Christmas should be a time to sow your religious beliefs and give out a few presents of friendship. But over the years this time has gradually changed for the worse; store owners raise prices, the shoplifting rate increases and robberies occur two times more often than usual.

Thank goodness there are things such as Martha's Table, which feeds the homeless on Christmas Day, and the Angel Tree Program which, fulfills Christmas wishes for children whose parents are incarcerated. These organizations sometimes keep us in line, but we still have a long way to go. In my eyes, the situation gets worse every year. We started with Cabbage Patch dolls, then moved to Transformers, and now we are into Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and the Nintendo Game Boy. When will we ever return to the real meaning of Christmas? BRIAN BRADFORD H.D. Woodson

Nobody has ever accused me of pandering to either religion or commercialism, but I think that around this time of year, while people may get too involved with both, these are necessary evils. Without a "Christmas Season," and the corporate leeching that inevitable becomes entangled in it, people might well forget to be nice to each other.

Religious influences guide us toward peace,and the themes of commercialism reinforce this spirit. I believe that, while religiously Christmas may have lost much of its meaning, December has nonetheless come to be a time when people stop killing and torturing.

Given this religious twilight, it is easy to forgive the industry for wrapping themselves in a perhaps-false spirit of goodwill, even if they do so in the name of profit.

If we desire to stop this commercialization, perhaps we should see this season as a period of the year devoid of most aggression without assuming any religious pretensions at all. JOSHUA PROSTEN Field School

Christmas is the true season of giving. This is the season when family and friends get together to form a bond. They give, not just to each other, but to others as well.

Yet Christmas is becoming too commercial. Everyone thinks of Christmas as a time to exchange presents, eat great feasts and then be done with the season. Christmas is more than this -- it is the celebration of the birth of Christ. But there isn't one store that is empty on Christmas Eve.

People should not look at Christmas as a time to exchange gifts. It should be a time to reflect on the past and the present and to see what we can do to make life better for ourselves, for our families and for others. TYRONE HARRIS Ballou

The holiday season has not become too commercialized or prolonged. People need to get into a different frame of mind before the holiday begins. There needs to be a change from a lot of negative thinking -- these negative thoughts are expected to change into positive ones.

I think the true meaning of the holidays is to bring everyone together in a religious aspect. Also, I think the holidays are times of giving and not always receiving. SAMUEL LYNCH Anacostia

During the holiday season, you often hear comments such as: "Have you made your Christmas list yet? Joe's is having a great sale. What are you giving me? All I want for Christmas is . . . "

Many stores can take the blame for the Christmas shopping frenzy. Some stores display Christmas items the day after Thanksgiving. You would be surprised at the number of people who save money as early as a year in advance for Christmas gifts. Almost every product on the market is decorated red and green, or has little designs such as Santa Claus' face and reindeer. These designs appear on socks, napkins . . . you name the product and there is the design. And with the design there is the implication that you can't have Christmas without it.

I have always thought Christmas to be a time of warmth and togetherness. However, I have also always felt you should share love, gifts and closeness all year round. Why wait until Christmas to show your love? LaSHUN POWERS Roosevelt

The holiday season is too long and too commercialized. It should be a time for peace, love, thanksgiving and cheer. When we have a long holiday season, people get hung up on shopping and tend to forget the true significance of the holiday season. If it were shorter, people would spend less time in the stores and more time with their families celebrating the peace, love, thanksgiving and cheer. RONALD CULMER III Banneker

The holiday season has not become too commercialized, because people need time to prepare for the holidays. If it takes starting their caroling early, before the Thanksgiving turkeys are gone, that's a good start. We need commercials to let us realize that the holiday is coming soon. Commercialization is a good part of the holiday season -- it helps us to get into the mood.

No, Christmas isn't too commercialized and we should have the holiday season mood all year. ANDRE GREY Spingarn

In my opinion, the Christmas season has lost its original purpose. Christmas used to be a time to bring families together to celebrate the feelings of peace of joy. Now, during this season people are more concerned with making Christmas lists and visiting the local shopping center.

On the other hand, the holiday season has not become too long. The stores that advertise early and offer spectacular deals are just trying to make money to pay employees and put food on the table. For some businesses, if they don't make it during Christmas, they do not make it at all.

Therefore, the public needs to remember the true reason for Christmas, but at the same time give the stores and their employees a break. SEAN SMOLENYAK St. John's

Hasn't the question of holiday commercialization been beaten to death? It is certainly true that stores take advantage of Christmas, Hanukah and Kwanza to push their wares at the shopping public. "Buy, buy, buy!" blares from every radio and television. Yet this is not altogether a sign of lack of the true "Christmas spirit."

I am a Roman Catholic, and I celebrate Christmas as a religious holiday, however there are many people who belong to no organized religion and are consequently influenced more by the secular traditions that we associate with the holiday. Seeing such an abundance of material wealth displayed everywhere at this time influences many people, religious or not, to donate to charity. One does not have to be a Catholic, a Jew or a member of the cult of Mithras to contribute to the Salvation Army volunteer outside of the mall.

Commercialization may take attention away from the religious aspect of Christmas, but if it shows people that they are fortunate, and therefore inspires them to help others, then the true spirit of Christmas remains. Would Jesus mind if we forgot his name but did His work? Somehow, I doubt it. ANNE BAKER Georgetown Visitation Students Speak Out:

To suggest future topics for Students Speak Out, call 202-334-5369 or write Weekly High Schools, The Washington Post, 1150 15th St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20071.