Over the weekend I was singing Christmas carols, when I came upon a familiar line in "Deck the Halls": "Don we now our gay apparel."
Gay apparel? Yes. When the song was written, the word gay meant "joyful, happy" and "celebratory"–not homosexual.
Singing "Don we now our gay apparel" gives us an opportunity to recognize how language changes. These days we don't don gay apparel. We wear something fabulous or put on our party clothes.
Language and business writing change. It is pointless to argue that we can never end a sentence with a preposition, when the sentence "What are you looking for?" makes perfect sense. It is silly to argue that paragraphs must be indented, even in email, when doing so makes an online message difficult to read. It is senseless to criticize others for using "can you" rather than "are you able," when "can you" is clear and more concise.
As we count down to 2010, I encourage you to say goodbye to any old notions about writing, just as you say goodbye to 2009. Get a new style guide. (See my recommendations.) Stop saying "This is the way I learned it." (If you aren't sure about a rule, ask me to address it here.) Forbid yourself from thinking that others are lazy because they don't do things the way you have always done them. Practice acceptance.
Then don some gay apparel and enjoy the holidays!