Maybe this is a tired argument. Maybe pining for a simpler time is a waste of breath in today’s fractured culture. But it’s gotten so out of hand, and it wasn’t always like this. The War On Christmas used to mean something.

Lately I’ve been thinking about how we got to where we are. When they told us we were going to wage a war, we were assured it wasn’t going to be a prolonged campaign. Our goals were modest, to loosen one religion’s grip on a beloved holiday.

Call me old-fashioned, but when I was a little kid, we waited until Thanksgiving was over before declaring War On Christmas. Sure, Santa would have his spot in the Macy’s Day Parade, but our parents assured us it was good, clean, secular fun. “Well, yes, his character is loosely based on a semi-historical Saint Nicolas,” they’d say, explaining how modern day Santa Claus is more of a wintertime mascot, accessible to Christians and non-Christians alike.

And then once the turkey was finished, that’s when it was OK to start taking the “Christ” out of Christmas. Which, yes, it was a war, but the sides weren’t as entrenched as they are in today’s divided America. It used to be enough to write “Season’s Greetings” on your holiday cards to let everyone know that shots had been fired. Maybe if the spirit moved us, we’d write letters expressing concern regarding the town nativity scene in such close proximity to City Hall.

But the point wasn’t to linger on our differences. The War On Christmas was never meant to be the full-scale quagmire that’s it’s devolved into today. We were just trying to mount a subversive campaign to slowly chip away at the religious foundation of our nation’s most celebrated December holiday. And we were willing to compromise. “Merry X-Mas” was a genuine effort to ease the spread of our godless agenda.

At least, that’s what I always believed. But now? We’ve got shopping malls flaunting their modern Santa’s villages, devoid of all religious iconography. We’ve got plain red coffee cups that, just last year, used to come decorated with festive snowflake illustrations. Talk about bringing a crèche to a tinsel-fight. It wasn’t supposed to be this way.

What’s the exit strategy? How much more War On Christmas can our country take? I blame commercialism. And I also blame the media. And the Internet. With so many distractions preventing us from living in the moment, we’ve lost sight of what it means to be at war with Christmas. If we could somehow collectively put our phones down for a minute, maybe we could see that the spirit of the War On Christmas is much more than shopping malls and coffee cups.

It’s about Frosty the Snowman and Rudolph the red-nosed Reindeer. Come on, that’s how you steep the culture in secular-progressivism without sounding alarms. It’s about passive-aggressive generic seasonal greetings. It’s about casually letting your religious friends and family members know how excited you are to put up the holiday tree this year. And tell them you’re putting up a menorah too. Call it a holiday menorah. Just throw it all together and wrap them up with a continuous string of blinking holiday lights.

We can do this, America. It’s not too late to get back on track. Because if we’re ever going to win this thing, we’ve got to find some way to reconnect with the true spirit of the War On Christmas. Happy holidays, everybody.