Merry Christmas, everyone! Merry Christmas! We're allowed to say that now, incidentally. And not because of the election results.
We were never not allowed to say Merry Christmas, but the way some people talk or comment on social media, you'd think there were uniformed Seasons Greetings Enforcement officers roaming city streets and writing up pedestrian citations for "unsolicited, inappropriate, insensitive and culturally intimidating references" to the birth of the baby Jesus.
Over the years I've spoken with dozens, perhaps hundreds, of people who have volunteered in sour, resentful voices all the words they are not allowed to say and things they are not allowed to do.
"You can't hold a door open for a woman anymore," I've heard many men say. "You'll be called a sexist."
I have no idea whether these men had actually suffered such scornful reactions during the commission of an act of courtesy. But in my decades of holding doors open in the normal course of a day, I have never heard anything but "Thank you" from men or women of all ages, races, and sexual orientation.
And I've never had anyone snarl in hostile reaction to my greeting of Merry Christmas, even if their surnames were Cohen or Ali.
Maybe I'm just lucky.
But the self-described casualties from the so-called War on Christmas usually present themselves as victims whose personal freedom to shout "Merry Christmas!" in a crowded theater has been proscribed by law.
The real battlefield in the War on Christmas has been in the mall, not in the courtroom. For every judicial decision barring a religious-themed display on public property, there have been thousands of unseen marketing decisions separating church and commerce.
Beginning in the 1960s, the specific historical and religious significance of Dec. 25 began to be shunned by a secular culture that prefers to celebrate Christmas as a mercantile lollapalooza that segues seamlessly from Halloween until New Year's.
Other American holidays have been subjected to that same retail metamorphosis. The birthdays of George Washington and Abraham Lincoln were celebrated separately until 1971, when the Madison Avenue conception and midwinter sales opportunities presented by a three-day Presidents' Day weekend proved irresistible.
Memorial Day weekend has become a Summer Begins seasonal festival, the same as Labor Day weekend closes the beach and launches the school year.
This process of homogenizing the public celebration of national holidays will continue, and in the process, change the meaning of the holiday itself.
It's not hard to imagine a Martin Luther King's Birthday in the future where the fact that Dr. King was black will be mentioned as infrequently as the fact that Jesus was a Jew is mentioned today.