Renee Fite | Daily Press

Tammy Rogers, left, shops for Thanksgiving with daughter Priscilla Burson and granddaughter Riley Burson, who discovers how heavy a ham can be.

A request for cherry cheesecake came over the phone to Sherry Lamons while she was shopping last Saturday for Thanksgiving dinner items.

Along with traditional foods, many families add a favorite dessert or side dish of the kids or grandpa, or one grandma used to make. Many moms and grandmas have taken time and care to teach youngsters not only how to cook, but to infuse that special secret ingredient: a dash of love.

A traditional meal for Lamons includes turkey and ham, dressing, baked beans, mashed potatoes and gravy, and broccoli rice casserole.

"And any pie you want; we've got some pecan eaters and everybody's gots their favorite," Lamons said

Hers is pumpkin for Thanksgiving, and about 20 will be around her table.

"The guys will be out with the cattle and four-wheeler if the weather is good and I'll be in the kitchen. My sister Tammy [Drost] and daughter-in-law Melissa [Lamons] will help a little, but I've got my way of doing things. They'll help some," she said.

A favorite memory is from her youth.

"We always did the same thing: We went to my grandparents' - my daddy's parents - for Thanksgiving, my granny's," Lamon's said. "In later years, she always wanted to bring something, and she baked beans, so she always brought those. She taught me to cook."

Lamons makes her mom's dressing: "I'm the only one who can make her dressing."

"My husband is good about smoking stuff and we're smoking brisket and other meat; that's how he contributes," she said.

Tammy Rogers plans to go to her dad's home with her daughter and granddaughter.

A traditional meal for Rogers includes turkey, ham, sweet potatoes, homemade dressing, mashed potatoes and gravy.

"My daughter makes the best mashed potatoes and gravy," Rogers said.

Daughter Priscilla Burson said her secret is this: "I warm up the milk and butter together before adding to the potatoes and make sure all the water is drained out, every bit!"

"She watched my mom cook," Rogers added. "I went out fishing."

Burson's daughter, Riley, will be 10 on Dec. 1.

"I like spending time with my family and having a big feast," said Riley. "Turkey and ham are my favorite, and pecan pie. And I like cooking, and helping."

After lunch, the family hangs out and watches movies, and in recent years, they've put up the Christmas tree.

"My son and maybe my granddaughter will be here," Rogers said, recalling a favorite memory as being at her mom's home. "She's been gone eight years, but we keep going and getting together because of her. She loved holidays, especially Christmas - and her home was all lit up."

Sisters Anita and Amanda Phillips each pushed a cart, shopping for Thanksgiving, with the grandchildren out of school for the week. While the grandchildren are Amanda's, both women refer to them as "my grandchildren."

"All my siblings are grandma and grandpa, in the Cherokee way," Amanda explained.

A traditional meal at their home includes turkey and dressing, potatoes and gravy, and stroganoff.

"The grandkids have different tastes, but all the kids seem to like stroganoff," said Anita. "And we'll have a mixed garden salad for something healthy. The turkey and dressing is something our mom made, who I learned from. That's the standard."

And rolls, added Amanda, who is the green bean casserole maker.

"She's the dessert maker," Amanda said.

The stroganoff, said Anita, is her specialty.

"And this year, I'm making an apple holiday bundt cake from scratch," she said.

The sisters also cook for D.D. Etchison Methodist, their church, for all holiday meals.

Two new traditions they've started are putting up the Christmas tree and addressing Christmas cards, said Amanda.

"We've got family there, grandkids to help," she said, "I like to do it the old-fashioned way and mail cards, and this way, they're ready to go in the mail in two weeks."

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