I recently heard on CNN that a teen-age boy was sent home from the high school holiday dance for wearing a Santa Claus outfit. He was told that the red suit and white beard might be offensive to some.

OK, that's the last straw. Who is offended by Santa Claus? He's a cheery looking guy who gives presents! He tells children to be good and obey their parents. He used to be St. Nicholas but now goes by Santa. What's so offensive about that?

During the recent holidays (can I say holidays? It does come from the words, holy days, ya know...), political correctness reached new heights of ridiculousness. I heard that the employees at the U.S. Post Office were instructed to wish their customers "Seasons greetings." Doesn't that sound somewhat robotic?

Now I’m wondering if we should say "Happy New Year." Some parts of the world have different calendar systems than we do and they might object if we try to force the January-to- December scheme currently in effect among people like us.

In February we normally celebrate Valentines Day. (That's named for the Christian saint, isn’t it). Should non-Christians be offended by the giving of cards, candy, trinkets and such?

What about St. Patrick's Day? That's pretty blatantly connected to a Christian figure. Should we do away with corned beef suppers and parades in the name of St. Paddy? Perhaps we could rename the 17th of March to something less radical.

I have a sister-in-law who is a full-blooded Tlingket Indian from Alaska. She doesn’t like the current designation for her people and prefers not to be called Native American, but rather an American Indian. I call her Pauline.

In France there is now a law that forbids girls of the Muslim faith to wear traditional head scarfs in schools. Why on Earth not? They are Muslims and it is an integral part of their culture for women to have their heads covered.

This country has always been proud of its melting-pot background. But lately it seems that we are trying to dilute the very ingredients that originally made it work so well. As has so frequently been quoted in recent years, our founders established a system that sought freedom of religion, not freedom from religion.

It seems to me that for the most part, we share and celebrate each other's worlds. We spend gazillions of tourist dollars seeking out other cultures; we eat odd food and wear dumb T-shirts that proclaim where we’ve been visiting.

A couple of years ago I had the occasion to sit in Heathrow Airport in London for a few hours. It was fascinating for me to hear the languages and see the native dress of so many different ethnic backgrounds. Had they all been speaking English and wearing jeans, I never would have known they were from all over the world.

Let’s back off and enjoy what we all have to add to the mix. Let’s not eliminate the joys of diversity and the freedom to be ourselves.

And while I’m at it, have a happy new year.