Christmas is a time to stuff your face, right? It’s a time to load your plate with a few too many slices of ham, turkey, and beef. Some (and by some I mean my Uncle Steve after 5 glasses of wine) may even step so far and say that ‘Christmas feasts are concepts invented by mass food disseminating conglomerates to effectively sells more turkeys.’ But I’m pretty sure that Christmas feasts have existed since the Constantine era (post Russell Crowe Gladiator times). What were these mass food conglomerates then? What did they even eat around that time? Raw grains, beats and beans? Whatever the food, Uncle Steve’s logic would lead me to assume that they were way too keen on selling them.

Food-related conspiracy theories aside, Christmas is fucking great. It’s a time to eat and drink yourself into oblivion and watch your drunken relatives do embarrassing things like sing Roxanne really loudly on the Karaoke machine. I am a champion eater, but I do think there is a limit to how much you should inhale although my Uncle Pablo disagreed.  He would often chase me around the living room with a fork piled with plantains, claiming I hadn’t eaten enough and I need to consume more if I wanted to have decent child bearing hips for all the little Pablitos I would pop out sooner or later (He thought he had the greatest name in the world and got sincerely offended when I didn’t name my dog Pablo).

I disagree with Uncle Pablo, although his attempts to assure the presence of his descendants were admirable. There is a limit to how much you can eat at Christmas. I learned that lesson in the most horrid way possible.

MT20 Shoryu Advert

I was about 9. I was young and plump. I was Lael the Whale, as my classmate Walter Sherry put it during a kickball match. One Christmas, I begged my mom to help her cook Christmas dinner. Secretly, I just wanted to lick the bowl of cake batter but to do that, I had to be in the kitchen.  Bread roll duty was bestowed unto me and I accepted the task with unobtrusive apathy. After I managed to lick the cake-batter bowl clean I got distracted and decided to play with my pugs. Before I knew it, it was almost feasting time. I plopped the rolls on a pan, stuck them in the oven, and took them out an hour later.

Everything seemed just fine. Christmas joy was in the air. The pugs were snorting, the food was simmering, and everyone was laughing, like the opening of a family insurance commercial. My rolls were small, about the size of a golf balls so obviously I took five as I at least wanted a baseball’s worth. My uncle Steve was sitting to my left and similarly, he loaded up on a generous supply of bread rolls (around 7 or 8).

I had never been so full in my life. When my mother brought out the pies, I could barely look at them. I knew something was seriously wrong. Uncle Steve kept muttering under his breath: I am so full. It felt like my stomach was about to rip into a million pieces. Uncle Steve kept groaning. I had to go lie down on the couch.  My parents were shocked that I was actually full. My other relatives made fun of Steve for having a frail stomach. Uncle Steve followed me, and we lied on the couches in a Christmas dinner delirium. I felt seriously sick, but it’s not like I ate an entire ham? Uncle Steve was similarly perplexed.

My mother came into the living room and asked what the hell was wrong. I told her my stomach hurt and that I thought my body was going to explode. She asked me what I ate. “You had five bread rolls!” was her shocked reply to my answer. She went back to the table and asked how many bread rolls the others had. Everyone else seemed to only have one. She went to the kitchen and looked at the package for the rolls.

It turned out the rolls were supposed to rise for 6 hours in the oven before you served them. That means, they were supposed to be about the size of softball. In both my stomach and Uncle Steve’s, the rolls were rising to a point that left us exhausted, confused, delirious and so unbelievably full.

The moral of the story? Always read the packaging! But also remember not to let your stomach rule your head. In taking on more than you can chew, you may unwittingly spend the rest of the holiday on the couch, cursing the moment you scoffed that extra morsel of dinner.