It's hard to imagine Christmas without especially nice food, be it wintry cakes with lots of dried fruit, or rich puddings, or good meats, or roast vegetables.
I am sure a lot of this is from old practical customs - because of the cold season you need more calories! And because harvest is past and there is little that is fresh, then you need to eat things preserved by drying, sugaring or curing. In warmer climates the customs are different. Here in France Christmas dinner has a large element of seafood - shellfish or lobsters - as well as various kinds of poultry - capons, guinea-fowl, geese, ducks etc...
Christians are sometimes ambivalent towards Christmas. We can't be sure of the date. There's this suspicious coincidence with the pagan celebration of the winter solstice. There's all the materialism and consumerism. And then surely all that fat and sugar isn't good for you.
So some avoid Christmas like the plague. Others argue that it is too good an opportunity to miss to share the central Christian hope with a world that for once seems willing to listen a little.
But others embrace it and go for it.
I'd vote for that.
After all, if we celebrate Christmas at all then we are celebrating the birth of hope! And that hope is of a world renewed, fruitful, abundant, a world where the Kingdom of God is described in terms of feasts and festivities. What earthly nation could be described in those terms today?
So to enjoy a moment of plenty, as best one can, in the middle of the winter seems to me to be a very fitting way of looking forward to what God had promised he will do when he refashions everything just right.
We had a very decent chicken, corn-fed, accompanied by all the usual trimmings, except no parsnips. Parsnips are not popular in France and when we saw them we did not snap them up. We had a splendid Waitrose Christmas pudding with a nice rum and raisin ice-cream - an inspired combination! And a very swanky bottle of wine from the posh château next door - well, from their wine shop. The chap in the shop persuaded me to buy it, though it cost about double what I intended. I don't regret it. It was a fine 2007 Medoc and absolutely delicious.
As good a foretaste as possible of the peace and plenty to come.