There's no doubt that hams and turkeys take top billing when it comes to Christmas feasts, but for me, it wouldn't be Christmas without whitebait fritters.
Nothing sets you up for a long day of drinking and eating than a brunch of bubbles and whitebait. It doesn't spoil your appetite, because let's face it, at $130 a kilo, the family is rationed to about three whitebait each. And because it's a rare treat, it makes Christmas Day feel all that more special.
I bought 500 grams and froze it, ready for Christmas, as my daughter and her husband are coming home from London for the holidays and they love the little silvery fish.
However, I'm not sure how much longer I can continue to justify this delicacy. According to freshwater ecologist, Mike Joy, most whitebait species will be extinct in 30 years unless drastic measures are taken.
Four of New Zealand's five species are under threat and the worst thing is they've become threatened in the last 10 years.
When I was a child and we used to visit relatives in the South Island, there would be buckets of whitebait and the fritters were as big as our dinner plates.
And I wince when I hear talkback callers tell me of the days when they used whitebait as fertiliser for their gardens. Those days are long gone.
Mike Joy says freshwater fish are like canaries down the coalmine. British miners used to carry canaries in cages with them into coal mines because the canaries were able to detect the presence of poisonous gases like carbon monoxide long before the miners could - the canaries were only replaced by electronic detectors in 1986.
Freshwater fish, Joy says, provide much the same early warning system for our rivers.
If species are threatened or in decline, then our rivers are in trouble too. He doesn't want to ban whitebaiting altogether - but he wants a halt to commercial whitebaiting and for whitebait to have the same protection as trout.
That seems fair enough. I'll appreciate the whitebait all the more if I have to stand in freezing water for hours instead of simply driving down to the supermarket.
However, Joy says no government will impose a ban on whitebaiting because it would be political suicide. I don't see why. There are far more recreational fishers than there are commercial whitebaiters.
And if the choice is protecting whitebait to ensure future generations can enjoy catching and eating them or allowing commercial fishers to plunder them to extinction, how could any Kiwi complain about regulations on the size of the catch?
They absolutely must be protected - and if that means I have to give up the Christmas tradition for a few years, then that's what I have to do.
There is a glimmer of hope - Mahurangi Technical Institute developed the technology to breed whitebait in captivity and a company that joined forces with MTI to, in effect, farm the whitebait has just had its first harvest.
A tonne of whitebait has been sold to restaurants around the country and in time, Premium Whitebait hopes to be able to make all five species of whitebait available to the public.
And ideally, Premium Whitebait wants to be able to release the whitebait back into our rivers, giving people the option of buying off the shelf or catching their own.
But before they can do that, the rivers and waterways need to be cleaned up or it will be a fruitless exercise.
All that, however, is in the future. So this Christmas, I will savour every last morsel of my whitebait fritter - because it may well be my last for a while.