And so we come to the time of year when millions of people - or so we are now supposed to believe - suddenly become experts in linguistics.

It’s all to do with spelling Christmas with an X. Or - as I call it - the X-word.

You may have thought the X-word began when you were a kid and you either couldn’t be bothered to write ‘Christmas’ out in full, or couldn’t remember how to spell it.

You may also have thought that when adults do it, it’s for shorthand or because it fits more easily into the space on a gift card or in a shop window.

And if you are a bit bolshie, like me, you came to the conclusion, a long time ago, that anybody who writes it that way is driven by one thing and one thing only: laziness.

However, in recent years, and more especially since we got hooked on social media, where any nonsense can be made to seem true, a half-baked explanation for the X-word has emerged, and the lazy have latched on to it as if it is a legitimate defence.

Apparently, the X stands for the Greek letter chi, and as this is the first letter of the Greek word for Christ, that makes the X-word all right.

Well it doesn’t.

For a start, even if you buy into this Greek saga, the X is still the crudest of abbreviations, and what you end up with is just as nonsensical as writing Cmas.

So when did it become normal for obscure abbreviations like this to become actual words? And what justification can there be for allowing one word to break all the rules of English that apply to the others?

Let’s be honest about it. Unless you are Professor of Ancient Greek at Oxford University, you cannot expect us to believe you refer to the obscure origins of words before choosing which spelling to use.

I am not saying people aren’t entitled to be lazy or brief sometimes, but there is a time and place, and Christmas isn’t it.

And it’s not just about idleness.

Some people say that spelling it with an X ‘takes the Christ out of Christmas’, and I do think it’s a question of disrespect.

After all, spending the extra moment it takes to write or type it out in full isn’t much to ask to recognise a figure whom billions of people believe to be nothing less than the son of God, and He had a name.

Only the illiterate can be excused for replacing a name with an X.

Not that Christians themselves always show the necessary reverence. I once spotted a board outside a church hall that was advertising its annual bazaar with the X-word, and I still regret not reporting them to the Bishop.

In case you are wondering, I am not a Christian myself, so it’s not up to me to fight their battles.

I’m fighting another - because as well as being ugly, lazy and lacking respect, I think the X-word is the worst example of the erosion of something we should all treasure: our mother tongue.

Whether you call it the Queen’s English or Shakespeare’s English, it’s precious. Abominations like the X-word are acts of vandalism, and we all have a duty to preserve and protect our heritage whenever it is threatened.

So do your bit, make the effort and stop being lazy.

If you spare the time for five measly extra letters, think how much merrier your Christmas will be, this year, when you realise you are helping to keep our beautiful language out of the gutter.