It’s true that I no longer lie in bed on Christmas Eve straining to hear reindeer on the roof, but that doesn’t mean I have given up on the magic of Christmas. I’ve just transferred my fantasies from the prospect of new toys to a more grown-up enchantment: the promise of Christmas dinner. So while my practical friends are dutifully taking care of their shopping, I am dreaming up a special meal. To me, that often means a roast bird—especially goose, duck, and even game hens. The rich, all-dark, almost beefy taste of goose makes it perfect holiday fare (plus, who can resist the lure of a traditional Dickensian Christmas?). Whole duck is delicious brushed with a flavorful glaze during the last minutes of roasting. And halved Cornish game hens are ideal individual servings for an elegant meal. In the following pages you’ll find not only amazing recipes but also the best techniques for roasting each bird to perfection. Pair any one of them with your favorite sides, and you’ll create some holiday magic of your own.