While not exactly an early Xmas present (as a certain beaksnake may have promised), the API for the file geodatabase will be hitting the beta stage in January.
Read the details on the GeoDatabase Esri blog, but there is some reason to be hopeful. The File Geodatabase API will allow access to the File Geodatabase without ArcObjects which is a big thing for those of us trying to read and write the file format. The File Geodatabase API only supports file geodatabases from ArcGIS 10 or later, so no help for those who did things with 9.x. Some of the proprietary Esri stuff such as annotation, networks and topologies still require ArcObjects and I think we are all fine with that.
More good news is that the API is a C++ library and not some weird Java or .NET thing. Oh, but a huge caveat… This release is Windows only. Thus those of us working with Fedora, Ubuntu or Mac OS X need no bother to look. Esri was just so close to making this a Merry Christmas.