On Sunday I was busy making my Christmas puddings, making my kitchen smell of delicious spices, fruit and, of course, brandy. 

There is now less than four weeks to go now until Christmas; for those who read these words and groan, I have little sympathy. 

What’s not to like about a time of year when, for most, work stops?  Although I am well aware that here are plenty of heroes who keep our hospitals, care homes and other essential services going over the festive period, and I salute you all.

The festive season is a time when we can catch up properly with friends and family.  And, just as importantly for me, a time when we can enjoy all the pleasures of the table without feeling guilty.

I once read a piece of research which showed that one in six people in Britain never cooks from raw ingredients, preferring convenience foods, ready meals and takeaways.  And by ‘never’, the study meant just that: these people don’t even cook on Christmas Day.

Now usually that fact would lead me to go on about this being one of the reasons for the UK’s obesity epidemic, but Yuletide is the wrong time to mention that, given that there are few of us who won’t be adding an inch or two to the waistline over the coming month. 

Let’s leave the health kicks for gloomy January.

No, my issue with those who boycott the stove all year round is this: they are missing out on one of life’s greatest pleasures, sharing food you have created yourself with those you love.  And if you can’t do that at Christmas, when can you do it?

I am constantly surprised how stressed people seem to get about cooking Christmas dinner.  Yes, it’s viewed as an important occasion, but let’s face it, everyone is going to be in a good and forgiving mood, and in any case, it’s really not complicated.  It’s basically a Sunday roast, albeit in bigger quantities than usual, and with more elements. 

View it like that, and you will understand that there is really no need to break into a cold sweat at the thought of having to cook it.

At this point, you may be expecting me to provide some tips to make the task simpler.  I’m not going to do that, but only because many more qualified people have done it before me, with the ultimate noddy’s guide to serving the perfect Christmas dinner provided many years ago by our own Delia Smith in her seminal Christmas Cookbook.

Each year, more and more takeaway outlets decide to open on Christmas Day, serving their particular brand of nutritionally-questionable fare at the click if an app.  Now, takeaway food has its place, but surely not on the one day of the year when we should all be making a bit of an effort to show our nearest and dearest some love. 

And I’m sorry, but nothing says ‘I don’t care about you’ more than not being bothered to get off your backside and cook on Christmas Day.

It’s not for nothing that many people regard their most romantic date not as the occasion when their sweetheart took them to an expensive restaurant, but the first time that their new partner cooked for them.  Food is indeed love, and preparing it one of the most powerful demonstrations of that emotion.

That is really what is going on at the wonderful ‘Open Christmas’ events happening around our county on Christmas Day.  Yes, the lonely, the vulnerable and the less fortunate will all receive a meal; important though that is, the real benefit of these initiatives is to show those attending some love, to demonstrate that however lonely they may feel, they are not alone.

The same thing applies in every home.  It doesn’t have to be complicated, it doesn’t have to be Michelin-star standard, it doesn’t even have to be turkey, but what it should involve is making an effort, showing that you think the people you are sharing Christmas with are worth it.  That’s probably the best Christmas present you can give anyone.

You have just under four weeks to stock up your cupboards with wonderful Norfolk produce, to dig out your cookbooks (or simply consult Google) and to make sure that even if you are one of those 16 per cent who don’t cook from one end of the year to the next, you will make the effort this year and foster a feeling of love around your table.