Festive Eating – The Art of Consuming Enough Food to Find Yourself on the Verge of Exceeding the Physical Capacity of Your Stomach and Then Somehow Managing to Make Your Way Through an Entire Box of Chocolates.

Christmas food is in a league of its own.

In the 21st century, there is increased awareness of the health risks of excessive eating and therefore the majority of people tend to exert a bit of control over what they eat.

Not at Christmas.

Every time we substitute chips with salad, deny ourselves a slice of cake or practice any other form of culinary self-control, a little bit of tension is stored within us.

All of this tension is released on Christmas day.

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The sheer mass of food present at Christmas is enough to intimidate most people.

Food is everywhere.

Some items of food are served within other items of food, like Inception but with calories instead of dreams.

People buy presents that are specifically targeted to further increase their ability to consume food and drink.

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It is impossible to escape from the near continuous torrent of food.

The abundance and accessibility of food induces you eat at a rate beyond that which you would have previously perceived possible.

Items of food are often actively brought to you by other members of the family who are  trying to offload them onto you in a desperate attempt to halt their own unstoppable consumption.

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It is likely that members of your family will have prepared dishes which they look upon with the same sense of pride that Michelangelo experienced upon the completion of the Sistine Chapel’s ceiling.

It is therefore hard not to experience a sense of obligation when they offer you a portion of their culinary magnum opus.

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Christmas day is a bit like Black Friday for your stomach in that it receives an unprecedented amount of business, all the digestive enzymes that work there get overly stressed and eventually everything implodes, leaving stranded you in a state of comatose on the sofa.

The physical consequences of this implosion normally manifest themselves when you attempt to dress yourself on Boxing Day and closing the zip on your jeans is the equivalent of squeezing said jeans, along with various other items of clothing, into an undersized suitcase before you go on holiday.

Once Christmas Day has passed, you are unsure if you will ever need to eat again.

However, on New Year’s Eve, the calories strike back in the form of alcoholic drinks.

New Year’s Eve calories are much more subtle than Christmas calories.

Not only is it hard to consider a liquid calorific, the more alcohol you ingest, the more intoxicated you become and the less aware you are of how calories work.

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Unless you possess an uncommonly high metabolism, it is impossible to consume vast quantities of food and without it exerting adverse effects on your waistline.

In order to counteract the calorific onslaught of Christmas day and New Year’s Eve, many people decide to take up running.

Running is similar to eating in that if you do for long enough it makes you feel sick.

When you first start running, it seems that everyone you pass doesn’t appear to be struggling as much as much as you are.

This may be because these people are just really fit.

However, it is comforting to imagine that a significant amount of people are just maintaining an illusion of fitness in order to appear impressive for as long as it takes to fully pass another person.

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‘But I Was A Sheep Last Year…’ – The Plight of Every Curly-Haired Child During Nativity Season

When I was in Year 1, I wanted to play the baby Jesus in the school nativity.

However, there were several fundamental problems that impeded this desire.

There was, for example, the slight issue that I looked nothing like a newborn baby boy.

This was due to the fact that I was a five year old girl.

Nevertheless, when the cast list was put up in the assembly hall, I crowded around it along with my fellow classmates, wholeheartedly expecting to see the following words imprinted before me:

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As a result, I was somewhat taken aback when I was greeted with:

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It was hard not to feel dejected, especially when it was consequentially revealed that a plastic doll from Toys R Us had been cast in the role of Jesus instead.

Nevertheless, I knew that the majority of successful actresses had to play some undesirable parts before they hit the big time and so accepted the decision with reasonable levels of grace and dignity.

However, I was a curly-haired and somewhat introverted child and, over the course of several years, a trend started to emerge with regards to the roles I was given in the nativity each year:

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After my fourth consecutive outing as a sheep, my mum tried to console me in an attempt to reinstate my damaged sense of self-worth.

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Despite her efforts, I became increasingly bitter and began making subtle attempts to sabotage the play.

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My subversive actions evidently had an impact.

In 2003, I was finally cast in a different role:

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At the time, the opportunity to play the backside of a donkey seemed momentous.

The fact that I had been upgraded to a slightly larger barnyard animal seemed like a significant step in my acting career.

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However, like most humans under the age of ten, I was not particularly patient as a child.

This lack of patience was particularly evident during the Christmas period.

When my mum first decided to have children, I imagine that some deluded part of her envisioned the family Christmas as a refined and civilised affair, like it was in Downton Abbey times.

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However, the building excitement of the festive season severely compromised my ability to do things at the appropriate time.

This tendency began to manifest itself right at the beginning of December when my mum would hand me an advent calender.

The proper use of an advent calendar relies heavily upon the idea of self-control, a notion which my 8-year-old mind struggled to apprehend at most times of the year.

During the Christmas period, it was a concept that no longer existed on my personal cognitive spectrum.

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Halfway through December, my mum would buy a Christmas tree and me and my brother were allowed to decorate it.

The process would start off relatively placidly with each of us placing decorations carefully on the branches.

However, it was not long before it became apparent that there was a significant discrepancy in each of our individual creative visions.

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The situation rapidly began to deteriorate.

What had started off as a nice sibling bonding session soon became a savage competition as to who could place the most decorations on the tree in the shortest period of time.

It was not long before we exhausted our mum’s supply of relevant, Christmas-based decorations.

In desperation, we began throwing any item in the immediate vicinity onto the tree in what I can only guess was a crazed attempt to claim it as our territory.

In the end, our tree had a slightly different aesthetic than that which is usually adopted in most other households.

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