Turkey and ham are great, but everyone knows the real stars of the Christmas dinner are the sides. There’s really nothing like standing in line (for the second time), skipping the main courses and piling up the plate of vegetables, sweet potatoes, filling and rolls. You probably already know how sad it is when the sides go away and you have to scrape the aluminum pan for leftover pasta.

It’s no secret that this year has been difficult for all of us. We are physically separated from our families due to the COVID-19 pandemic, social tensions have been high since spring, and President Trump’s behavior after the 2020 presidential election drained many of us. Still, there is so much to be thankful for.

We can relax today because we made it. The persistence black women have shown over the years did not disappoint, even when the street seemed too dark to navigate. We hustled day after day amid opportunities that seemed unbeatable. We have risen above everything and we should all celebrate that.

Today, when you immerse yourself in your food and speak to loved ones over the phone, text, and video chat, you should feel grateful. You are loved, you are blessed and you are here. That’s all any of us can ever hope for.

In the spirit of love and fun, we rated our absolute favorite side dishes for dinner on vacation. Keep scrolling to see our full list.

SUBJECTS: dinner