Husband unit took the kids to Toronto this morning, and I'm alone with my two furry babies until they come home sometime Wednesday afternoon, a couple pounds heavier. I'll miss them, of course. But I'll also enjoy being alone for a bit. I have my Globe and Mail gigantic crossword to work on, along with some writing, a pile of books, and enough food and wine. I don't have to pretend I can put up with traditions I don't understand. I don't have to dress up. I have no meals to prepare except my own.

Like I said last year, I wish it were possible to spend a couple of days off without going full-on Christmas. I wish this holiday wasn't a binary affair - either you're in, or you're hanging out with your Jewish friends eating Chinese take-out. I wish there weren't so many expectations around this time of year. I wish we'd relax and just learned to hang around the house in thick socks and mismatched jammies, doing puzzles and eating potato chips. I'm not the only weirdo who doesn't like Christmas, and unfortunately for us there are only two choices: going along to get along, or disappointing those nearest us with our grouchiness. Every year I say the same things (last year's rant is below), and every year it's still as binary as the year before.

I don't resent people who enjoy the traditions and the trimmings. I just wish there were more options on the menu for those of us who feel differently.

I don't like Christmas. That's not a new thing; I've felt this way since the early 1980s.  I am not a Christian, so to me there is no religious significance to the date. And I never understood why Christians celebrate the birth of their lord and saviour by spending crazy amounts of money on presents to each other. [Oh yes, don't worry, plenty of Christians have tried to explain their position, ad nauseam. The more they explain it the less sense it makes to me. Whatever. It's a free country, do your thing.]

Then I spent several years working in retail and hospitality, and whatever seasonal goodwill I might have salvaged from my dysfunctional childhood disappeared in a hurry, never to return.

Somehow, I married into a family that likes its Christmas the traditional way, with all the trimmings: crazy number of presents, too much food you wouldn't normally eat (mince tarts? the hell?), carols, those infernal crackers, silly hats and way too many unduly boiled green beans. It makes me want to scream and tear my hair out. I have bitched and moaned for more than 15 years and very reluctantly went along with the thing most years. And hated it.

I mean, *hated* it. I so obviously don't like it I make other people miserable. Which isn't really all that fair. So now what we do is husband takes the kids to his family and they do the Christmas thing while I stay home alone enjoying a few days without anyone going MomMomMomMomMomMomMom... See, since I homeschool and don't have a family or anyone else to leave the kids with, I always have them with me. It's a good thing I enjoy their company; I don't think I had more than 10 (non-consecutive) days without them in the last 10 years. To say I'm savouring the sound of my silent house would be a spectacular understatement.

Still, it's a bit of a crazy thing, when you think of it. To be at the point where the only acceptable option is to spend the holiday apart, just because Christmas is an all-in or all-out affair. There are days, I tell you, when I wish the pro-Christmas camp realized how those of us who can't stand the traditional thing feel about the binary hell of it. How unpleasant it is to have to choose between the full-on turkey-and-presents ordeal (with awful carols and worse crackers) or nothing at all. How sometimes I wish I could just make up my own weirdo tradition instead (do puzzles all day, yes? no stupidly big tree, only a few small inexpensive presents, no turkey and an absolute ban on crackers). But no. Apparently that's not possible. So I opt out and make the best of it. It will soon be over anyway.