Christ­mas Bites

Once you be­come a par­ent, So­phie White finds that your yule­tide pri­or­i­ties shift, and the Santa Threat be­comes as cru­cial as the tur­key. Photography by Tony Gavin

Sunday Independent (Ireland) - Life - - APPETITES -

The cel­e­bra­tion of Christ­mas re­ally evolves over a life­time. From get­ting up at 5am on Christ­mas morn­ing too ex­cited to sleep, to get­ting in at 5am af­ter the ‘Twelve Pubs’, too booze-jazzed to sleep. For me, Christ­mas peaked in 1994 with the de­liv­ery, by Santa, of Bar­bie’s Dream Camper­van, and since then, it has never re­ally come close to that sense of magic. Over the course of two decades, the main thrust of the day has gone from be­ing 110pc present-fo­cused, to even­tu­ally be­ing 110pc food-fo­cused; even the booz­ing has abated some­what, due to the spe­cial kind of hell that is par­ent­ing while nurs­ing a hang­over.

Lately, how­ever, some of that magic of the early 1990s has re­turned, as, fi­nally, Yer Man, at age three, has a new aware­ness of Christ­mas. And sure, it’s beau­ti­ful to wit­ness Christ­mas through the eyes of a child, but I’ve found there is another (even bet­ter) un­ex­pected side ben­e­fit: The Santa Threat. Him­self first de­ployed the Santa Threat in July, and we’ve been en­joy­ing mod­er­ately more rea­son­able tod­dler be­hav­iour ever since.

I thought the ef­fec­tive­ness would wane, but now that Christ­mas ba­si­cally be­gins in Oc­to­ber, his com­mit­ment to pleas­ing this Santa char­ac­ter has stayed the course. Never again will I dis­miss the fes­tive oc­ca­sions that punc­tu­ate the year as com­mer­cial non­sense. Now I recog­nise them for the cru­cial par­ent­ing de­vices that they are.

The Santa Threat has be­come such an in­te­gral tool in the par­ent­ing arse­nal that, with Christ­mas nearly upon us, I un­der­stand­ably be­gan to worry about how I would in­tim­i­date my tod­dler once the spec­tre of Santa — I’ve opted to paint him as quite a ma­li­cious char­ac­ter — was no longer avail­able to me. How­ever, I’m bet­ting the Easter Bunny, to my mind a far more sin­is­ter prospect than an over­weight man who couldn’t out­run an elf, will be an even more ef­fec­tive dis­ci­plinar­ian, once Christ­mas is over.

Along with keep­ing the spawn in line, my favourite thing about Christ­mas is, of course, eat­ing. The thing is, now that I am out­num­bered by my chil­dren, I find all food items must be able to be con­sumed one-handed, or else they won’t make it past my lips.

These six dishes are per­fect fes­tive party plates and can eas­ily be eaten with a child in one arm, and some mulled wine in the other!

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