“I’m not altogether sure Christmas dinner is a meal at all, let alone a real one; rather, it is the focus of all the faith, hope and joy – as well as the transgenerational neuroses and psychic dyspepsia – that we load on to that already heavily freighted barque ‘the family’. Granted, not everybody who eats Christmas dinner does so with their family, but even childless friends who refer to the rest of us – not a little contemptuously – as ‘breeders’ seem to end up pulling crackers and donning paper hats, thereby making up for a lack of infants by infantilising themselves.
“No one really likes Christmas dinner. It squats dumpily in the middle of the festive season, a throwback to an age before all of East Anglia was given over to factory turkey production, and when gorging yourself stupid was a rare event, combining both the attributes of a heartfelt orgasm and spiritual ecstasy. In the pre-Christian era, winter saturnalias involved a social bouleversement, and this endured until the early modern era.
“Nowadays, however, far from the masters serving their servants, we have all become the slaves of an appetite we no longer feel.”
Read the rest of the December 17 Real Meals column at the New Statesman.