Although I don’t have any particular passion for autumn as a season, I have to admit that November in New Orleans is pretty great. I’ve been enjoying the hell out of sweaters and tights and fuzzy boots and steaming cups of coffee; the days are in the 70s; and everything smells like sweet olive. All in all, early November is a hard month to be unhappy, even though I’ve said before that I struggle with it because of a lot of memories associated with my late sister.

 This year, though, although I will think of her on her birthday and on Beaujolais Day and on Thanksgiving, I am not really sad. I guess melancholy has a time limit … or maybe I’m just too busy with a 2-year-old and a second-grader and a teenaged stepson. Fresh grief can drive you to your knees, can pre-empt every facet of everyday life, but once enough time has passed, taking the time for mourning can start to seem like a luxury. “Do I have time for grief right now?” I wonder idly, the same way I calculate whether I can duck away from work long enough for a pedicure. And the answer, on both counts, is almost always no. I have a few remaining streaks of orange-hued OPI Tasmanian Devil Made Me Do It polish on my big toes, left over from an early August pedicure I squeezed in while Ruby was out of town, and I couldn’t tell you the last time I had a good cry.

But while a low hum of sorrow is playing in the background of my month, it is drowned out by the thrill of having Thanksgiving dinner in my new home and having Ruby here in town for it. (My ex and I alternate holidays, and last year, she went to Oklahoma with him to meet her new cousin.) Thanksgiving is my absolute favorite holiday, and there are some recipes I always make: pumpkin-and-black bean soup, sage-and-onion stuffing, sour cherry pie, cranberry sauce laced with orange zest and Grand Marnier. There are also a number of things I try out new each year, to see if they’re good enough to make it into the regular rotation. (Peanut butter-pumpkin pie made the cut; the version of oyster dressing I attempted did not.)

The recipes on this website are a great source of inspiration, but I’d love to hear from you, as well. What are your top must-make-every-year Thanksgiving recipes?