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Make Your Own Rules on Thanksgiving

My ideal holiday consists of just two things

An overhead image of various dishes, including a carved roast duck, yellow biscuits, orange mashed sweet potatoes, and brown stuffing.
Last year’s Thanksgiving spread included roast duck, biscuits, mac and cheese, stuffing, sweet potatoes, and Brussels sprouts.
Stephanie Wu
Stephanie Wu is the editor-in-chief of Eater, overseeing 20+ city sites, national food culture coverage, and an Emmy-award winning video program.

A version of this post originally appeared on November 19, 2022, in Stephanie Wu’s newsletter, “From the Editor,” a roundup of the most vital news and stories in the food world. Read the archives and subscribe now.

Thanksgiving has always ranked as one of my favorite holidays. As someone who moved far away from home for college, the four-day break was the first time I experienced friends coming together as a satellite family, and capturing that feeling of home from afar.

Celebrating Thanksgiving — a holiday with complicated, colonial origins — became more of an event as time went on. My freshman year, the first time I spent the holiday in the U.S., consisted of a bunch of friends from colleges throughout the Northeast gathered in my dorm room only to find that none of us knew how to work a can opener. Eventually, we caught onto the fact that Thanksgiving is one of the best times of year to travel if you pick your dates right, leading to reunions in Vegas and tacos in Mexico City.

Along the way, I’ve hosted my fair share of Thanksgivings and Friendsgivings, too. Our most memorable dishes include five-spice turkey served in Chinese bao, my friend’s infamous corn casserole (adapted from the recipe of a notorious Southern chef I’d rather not name), and endless variations on Brussels sprouts, potatoes, and pie. In more recent years, we’ve embraced Sidesgiving, where we pick up roast meat from Chinatown and everyone chips in with sides — truly the best part.

For the past few weeks, the Eater team has been sharing their own Thanksgiving strategiessnacking through the day, making a different menu every year, or embracing the tried-and-true — as well as recipes worth building a meal upon (yam gnocchi, anyone?). Despite all this inspiration, my Thanksgiving is still completely up in the air. We’ll likely host a low-key meal for the family, and I’ve volunteered to make sure we have no shortage of pies and cakes. I don’t love not having plans set in stone, but I’ll admit this is part of Thanksgiving’s appeal — four whole days off with barely any prescribed activities. The only things that are guaranteed? A decent amount of carbs, and a whole lot of time with loved ones.