One year I spent Christmas with a bunch of complete strangers. (Though I had got to know them a little in the preceeding couple of weeks, as we walked around the bush, alert for wildlife. We had particularly bonded when an elephant threatened to charge.)
I was in Tanzania, on a safari/beach holiday, without my children. I had divorced my husband, and this was the first Christmas they spent with him, instead of me. I didn't like the idea of being away from them at all, so I decided to go away somewhere really special, to take my mind off it.
I was brought up, like most people, to think of Christmas a family time, pointless without Grandma insisting on, then dozing over the Queen's speech; Dad getting tipsy and making a hash of carving the turkey; overexcited children squabbling over the last Quality Street in the tin.
Instead I spent Christmas morning in the village near the beach, had lunch in a women's co-operative cafe (rice and beans, it was delicious, and cost about 20 pence), went snorkelling in the afternoon and spent the evening on the beach, looking at the moons of Jupiter through binoculars and chatting. It was one of my best Christmasses ever.
I don't believe any of these myths any more. Blood isn't thicker than water. Christmas isn't all about children. Africa isn't scary. Being part of a couple isn't what it's all about.