Delicious cinnamon rolls right out of the oven. JULIA MONGEAU/THE BATES STUDENT

Answer me this: what is the most essential part of any good holiday get together? Some people might say the company; others will tell you it’s the ambiance that really makes a holiday bash pop. To those people, I say that while those are good components, you’re wrong. The most essential, necessary, make-it-or-break-it element that ties the whole holiday together is the food.

I admit, my Jewish heritage conditioned me to expect loads of comfort food when celebrating any holiday, so I may be a bit biased. However, the editors and photographers of our newspaper seem to agree.

Most often, the dishes people love the most aren’t the main event. While turkey on Thanksgiving is vital, most people argue that they could get through the holiday on mashed potatoes alone. Let’s not forget, moreover, that no turkey would be complete without its other, better half: gravy. Sports Photographer, John Neufeld ’17, makes the turkey gravy with his dad each year. In this case, while the gravy itself is delicious, the time spent with family is another factor that makes this dish stick in Neufeld’s memory.

At his Thanksgiving, my Co-Managing Arts & Leisure Editor, Riley Hopkins ’18, admits that his favorite part of the meal is the appetizers. “We have pretzel sticks with pub cheese, homemade salsas and dips, countless crackers and chips . . . a counter full of the best hor d’oeuvres,” Hopkins firmly states. Not to mention, the epic battle of wits in which his siblings and he engage while playing Bananagrams always makes the holiday one to greatly anticipate.

Sometimes, families are guilty of falling into the rut of serving the same meal over and over. People tend to be afraid of trying new recipes at a time of year when the whole boisterous, opinionated family congregates at one table. However, this is not always the case, nor should it strive to be the norm. Yes, there are some sacred dishes that should never be changed, but on the whole new additions brighten up the meal.

Managing News Editor, Hannah Goldberg ’16, explains that she loves the cranberry relish her mom started making for Thanksgiving and Christmas a few years ago. Goldberg notes the dish “is like cranberry sauce’s fancy cousin that everyone actually likes.” This newcomer is even liked by Goldberg’s grandmother who, though a bit “picky, always requests it, so [they] make extra for her.” With orange zest, crystallized ginger and toasted almonds, this dish saunters right up into a place on the “must have” list for the holiday table.

Now, no meal would be complete without the perfect alcoholic beverage to round out the palate. To Assistant Sports Editor, Jamo Karsten ’17, the spiced wine found at Chicago’s Christkindlmarket fits the bill. Going to the market always fills Karsten with jolly memories and embodies the true spirit of the holiday season. Not to mention, to Karsten the beverage is “always a reminder of Jon Snow and Jeor Mormont, 997th Lord Commander of the Nights Watch, may he rest in peace!” (Let’s takes this opportunity to just pause here for a moment to once again say, what the heck Ollie?!)

It’s not just the big dinners that deserve all the limelight. In the Mongeau household, after exchanging gifts on Christmas morning, the family indulges in homemade cinnamon rolls. “She only makes them once a year so we are craving their cinnamon-sugary deliciousness come December 25,” remarks Editor-in-Chief, Julia Mongeau ’16, about her mother’s homemade pastries. Not wanting to lose this amazingly scrumptious tradition, Mongeau states “I’ve been watching over her shoulder these past few years and hope to keep the tradition alive for when I have a family of my own.” Food has the amazing ability to survive the generations, which with foods as good as those rolls, is a very good quality.

In my house, when Hanukkah comes, potatoes are peeled and the frying pans are brought out to make latkes. Here, my mom opens the kitchen windows, then leaves my siblings, my dad and me to our own devices. Hours later, once the kitchen is thoroughly doused in oil and we chefs bare our hot, oil-induced battle scars, the reward are the amazingly golden treats that are not complete without a shmear of our homemade apple sauce.

From The Bates Student, we wish students, professors and staff a fast and easy next few weeks. And remember this, the light at the end of the tunnel is all the amazing comfort food of the holiday season.