Sam Sifton Offers Advice for Perfect Thanksgiving

New York Times editor is "World News'" person of the week.
3:00 | 11/16/12

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Transcript for Sam Sifton Offers Advice for Perfect Thanksgiving
And finally tonight, our "person of the week." A powerful newsman who just wants to make sure all of us have a great thanksgiving. He's even written a book about it. He is famously drol and funny and he loves that family day. Norman rockwell painting, called "freedom from one." And here is kindly grandma with this giant burnished bird and grandpa behind her and the spit-shined kids around the table waiting for this holiday. All of this, in some measure, are looking to recreate some part of that. Reporter: Sam sifton, national editor of "the new york times", once the times food critic, that knows that thanksgiving is about anticipation, along with anxiety and stress. Do I have enough plates? Do I have enough glasses? Am I really going to have a table cloth? Can I use a sheet? That's cheap. Maybe I should -- well, maybe it's good. What do I do about uncle morty who is an alcoholic? He's got to be there. But he gets drunk. And I thought, it might be helpful just to say, everything's going to be okay. It's a pretty simple meal, when you really think about it. You're roasting a giant chicken. Your mashing some potatoes. You're mashing almost everything. It's basically piles of mush on a plate with slices of big chicken. Reporter: Sifton says he learned to take out the stress by following just a few absolute rules. You must not serve appetizers. The scent of the turkey is enough to stir your hunger. And I certainly am not going to spend all day roasting a turkey so that you can come into my home and eat two pounds of nuts and then refuse seconds. That's just rude. You must not serve a salad. This is not a place for health. This is thanksgiving. So, let us speak painly about butter. There's going to be a lot of butter. I think it is not incorrect to lay in at least two pounds of butter for the day. You need to have pie at the end. There's no place for chocolate. At thanksgiving. That's good for depressing nights. For, unfortunate birthdays, things of this nature. It's not for thanksgiving. Reporter: And by the way, he says no one ever judged you because you bought your cranberry sauce. But most of all, sifton says, set your table as a kind of sacrament. Whether it's a sheet, a table cloth, add some candles. Whatever makes it an occasion at your house. This changes the behavior of the people who gather at the table. Children are better behaved by this kind of special thing before them and if you can take that moment at the beginning of the meal to say a grace, to look everyone at the table in the eye and say, I want to say thanks, i want to give thanks for your presence, that's the purpose of the whole thing, right? It's the one holiday that all americans really, really gather together to celebrate. More than the fourth of july, i would argue. More than christmas. And so we choose sam sifton and his happy survival kit of a book. More of his wise advice at abcnews.Com. But for a moment, I want to go back to that famous rockwell painting. Did you know the woman right there in front is rockwell's wife, mary? And that is his mother, with the white hair. He painted them 70 years ago. And all of the people around that table have now left us. But left us with a reminder to give thanks when our modern american families gather at our tables next week.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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