Calm before the storm.

Last night, a generous friend served a dish from the age of Escoffier. When I say that it comprised a whole truffle, surrounded by foie gras and deep fried so that the entire confection looked like a gigantic scotch egg, you’ll know that Christmas has begun. I woke up in the early hours of the morning wondering whether to call an ambulance; if I survive, I told myself, it will be Melba toast and water from now on.

That resolution died with the alarm clock, when I found I hadn’t perished from over-indulgence. Abundance, overdoing things, a cornucopia of richness—they’re the essential elements of the season. Fortunately, I have a self-imposed restraint. Suits made 20 years ago—before we had children—impose the sartorial equivalent of a gastric band. But who can say no to mince pies?

And those family rituals. You can only add to them, never detract. Admittedly, the mood of the preparation—with pudding and cake made —is calmer than of yore. When the children were little, the added effort of having to conceal the existence of stocking presents, as well as attend Nativity plays and carol concerts, left us exhausted by the dawn of Christmas morning. Yes, calmer now. I rather regret it.