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Thanksgiving is days away, and as people head home for the holidays, they’ll find themselves in the kitchen cooking a family meal. Thanksgiving meals are a pretty set menu with turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes and other staples. To some, this may be repetitive and boring. However, there are ways to have unique dishes without experimenting and going off the rails, cutting out the only actually valid part of the Thanksgiving holiday: eating.

For many people, Thanksgiving is an excuse to take off work, spend time with family and eat more than what might be socially acceptable. One would hope that no one is celebrating the theft of land and the genocide of indigenous people. The only thing that really makes this holiday enjoyable, tolerable and worthy of a spot on the calendar is the food. 

Every family has their own traditions and includes their own special staples. Sticking to tradition does not have to mean eating turkey and mashed potatoes. People simply shouldn’t try to do kitschy and trendy things on Thanksgiving primarily because the people you spend Thanksgiving with are close enough not to lie to you when you accidentally put beef in a traditional English trifle. The one Thanksgiving that so and so tried to do a taco bar and didn’t have pumpkin pie for dessert will be brought up until the end of time at every family gathering.

This is not to say that people shouldn’t include dishes that aren’t technically Thanksgiving dishes; they just shouldn’t be testing out new recipes for the first time. Bringing family favorites or cultural dishes is a great way to add variety without forcing everyone to eat something gross. Asking family members to contribute to the dinner in a potluck style can be especially risky, but suggesting dishes that one knows the host can cook or has cooked for others before can minimize the chance of sending home leftovers that everyone will throw away secretly. 

As a rule, no one should ever test out a new dish, even if it is a classic, during the holidays. Someone who has never been responsible for cooking the turkey shouldn’t be the one doing it on Thanksgiving. While there’s no hard and fast rule about what foods should be eaten at any holiday celebration, everyone should do their loved ones a favor by not giving them food poisoning.

Thanksgiving should be when everyone finds common ground with their loved ones, though it’s far more normal for family feuds to pop up or political arguments. While not much can be done about that, people can at least eat good food while screaming at each other.