One is silver and the other gold

Lately I've been torn. When it comes to Thanksgiving, there are certain dishes that I love for their steadfastness. No matter the circumstances, these dishes are there, comforting me, year after year: my mom's celery-scented dressing, sweet potato casserole topped with toasted marshmallows, cranberry "sauce" straight from the can and, my husband's favorite, pineapple bake. Normally, I wouldn't look twice at these items on a menu, neither would I crave them unless it was the fourth Thursday in November. But when it comes to the feast to end all feasts, it wouldn't seem like a holiday without them.

On the other hand, my palette has evolved over the years and I'm often tempted by the new, glittery Thanksgiving recipes on the pages of my favorite food magazines or blogs: cranberry relish with orange and ginger, cornbread stuffing with fennel and bell peppers or sweet potatoes with coconut milk and fiery Thai spice paste. I spend weeks plowing through these twists on the traditional sides, dreaming up an ideal meal.

But I can't have it all. Our recent Thanksgiving celebrations have been limited to immediate family, so making a variety of sides that would include both the traditional and the modern versions of my favorite dishes would invariably result in eating turkey-day leftovers until Easter. Now normally, I'm not one to knock a leftover, I often think they're the best part of any meal, but I have to draw a line somewhere, and that line generally falls somewhere around the time I put up my Christmas tree.

So friends, I'm stuck. Stay with my comfort foods and avoid the angry mob who might come after me if I replaced our sweet potato casserole with a spicy cousin, or blaze a bold new trail of Thanksgiving eating? What do you do to balance the old and the new?

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