For 19 years, Bethany woman has been cooking up meals for hundreds before Christmas

For 19 years, Bethany woman has been cooking up meals for hundreds before Christmas

BETHANY, TX (KSLA) - Eighteen slabs of ribs, 3 briskets, 2 turkeys, chicken, ham, casseroles, pies, cobbler and more than two dozen cakes.

That's part of what a Bethany woman is cooking up this year for members of her community.

She's opened her home, kitchen and heart around Christmas every December for the past 19 years.

"I do the elderly, the shut-ins, the misfortunate and just anybody else who wants to come by. I'm open that day to the public," 66-year-old Myrtis Anderson said.

Each time, she cooks for about a week to serve two huge meals on the same day.

This year's feasts will be held Monday, with one meal at 1:30 p.m. and the other at 6 p.m., at 5129 County Road 322 in DeBerry, Texas.

That's on Bethany State Line Road just south of the community that straddles the Texas-Louisiana border.

It's a tradition Anderson started in 1998.

"The end of the year was approaching and I was wondering what could I do. And I said, 'Lord, what could I do'?

"And immediately I heard pre-Christmas dinner. And I thought 'Yeah, that's a thought.' And I started and it's been successful and it's been an annual thing."

Anderson, a retired Veterans Affairs nurse, needs surgery in both knees.

But that has not stopped her from planning, shopping and preparing the meals all by herself.

"If I see that I'm getting tired, I shut it off, rest and then I start back."

Anderson began planning for this year's meals in October.

More than a week before the meals, she starts cooking enough to feed 200 to 300 people.

And there's no skimping.

"I take pride in what I do. From shopping, I select quality ingredients," Anderson said.

"I don't go out and get the most inexpensive thing just because I'm giving. I do just like I'm cooking for me."

Throughout the year, she puts away money specifically to pay the meals.

Anderson said it usually costs her $3,000 to $3,500.

It's something she's happy to do.

But this year, Anderson said, she had to ask for help to continue the tradition.

"I make a plan and I let the money go as far is it will. And up until this year, it was the only time I did request donations."

Several grocery stores have donated food to help her with this year's feast.

And Anderson said she will also welcome donations for next year's meal.

That's right, she says she plans to carry on this tradition until she cannot anymore.

"This is my time of the year, you know, with the spirit of Christmas."

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