Every year my extended family gathers ‘round our dining room table for Thanksgiving dinner. My father has quite a love for food, and as such, pulls out all the stops for this celebration centered on all things food. And as cousins grow older and families grow larger, the grocery list grows longer and longer. There are now multiple double-digit pound turkeys on our table, next to peachy smoked salmon and a glazed leg of ham. Breadbaskets pop up like daisies, and there is always an internal struggle over how to manage the delicate balance of pie versus dinner (my stomach can only expand so far). But for as long as I can remember, it was the third Friday in November that brought me the greatest of joys.

I know, I know, the turkey is now cold, the stuffing now soggy. And if you didn’t get a slice of pecan pie the first time around, chances are you are shit out of luck. But I find that I am able to look beyond these minor inconveniences because I know what awaits behind frosted doors. I know the beauty of an empty Tupperware drawer. I know that wine-stained tablecloths and bare turkey bones means that we have finally arrived at the glorious day of Thanksgiving leftovers.

I’m talking pie for breakfast, turkey sandwiches for lunch, baked sweet potatoes for a mid-afternoon snack, stuffing for a pre-dinner appetizer. I’m talking about the most wonderful of moments when you open your fridge and can’t see past a mountain of tin foil and plastic containers. I’m talking about when you wake up with a smile on your face knowing that you will have a great meal, for every meal.

And let us not forget the well-known fact (cough, science) that states: turkey is always better the next day. And stuffing. And pie. And the feeling of badass-ness that comes with eating pie at nine in the morning and eating stuffing at eleven at night. In my mind, Thanksgiving weekend means standing alone in front of the refrigerator in my sweatpants deciding if it’s a pecan or pumpkin kind of morning. It means there is finally a morning after to look forward to, year after year.

And as I get older and being home for Thanksgiving becomes more of a luxury than a routine, I’ve come to find that I revel in Thanksgiving Day leftovers because it means it’s not over yet. I see the mashed sweet potatoes and I think of my cousins stealing marshmallows right out of the bag when the adults aren’t watching. I see pecan pie and I think about the one year that everyone assumed someone else was bringing dessert so we nearly had a pie-less Thanksgiving (thank god for Marie Calendar’s). I see all of the ways that people from all different walks of lives, from all different parts of the world, set aside an evening of their time to come together and think that maybe holidays aren’t so silly after all.

So embrace the greatness of Thanksgiving leftovers, get creative and enjoy the truly uncharted potential of a fully stocked fridge.