The Last Holiday — A Slice Of Love, Life, And Tilly’s Lemon Pie

Christmas past and the bittersweet memory of a lost recipe

Toya Qualls-Barnette
P.S. I Love You

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A thin sliver of creamy lemon goodness sat waiting, smudged in a frosty, glass pie dish. The last piece hidden behind a large container in the back of the refrigerator and her last pie. Every holiday, my mother-in-law would bake the entire family’s favorite dessert using lemons from her own tree in the front garden. They were always plentiful — in full golden bloom, as if she had a personal relationship with the lemon gods.

This Christmas would be different. It wouldn’t be at my husband’s parents’ home. They were aging and no longer able to host such a large dinner. The Christmas dinner baton passed to his sister a few years ago. Our family gathering at their house was now a memory in the distant past. We had 30 wonderful years steeped in familial tradition, but this year we would transport the tasty dishes on Christmas day.

My mother-in-law — in a wheelchair now — couldn’t stand for long stretches of time. The festivities would go on, no less magical. My sister-in-law, my nephew, and I gathered in the kitchen at my mother-in-law’s request — we were honored to play her personal elves — to help create her lemony masterpiece. All hands on deck laboring for love. Last-minute gift wrapping…

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Toya Qualls-Barnette
P.S. I Love You

*Top writer in This Happened To Me| Writing about the impact of relationships|Contributor to Chicken Soup for the Soul| Dreamer|Mother|HSP in drag