Trifle for Two

Fadila Henry on how the smallest things, like assembling a trifle, can become a tradition.

by Fadila Henry

Years of being conditioned to American movies and TV shows always had me believing that traditions look like big families coming together over the holidays. Making long treks, especially in snowy weather, to spend days in front of a crackling fire, eating pie and playing board games. (Also, I watch too many Christmas movies).

So I never believed that I, the only child of a single parent, could actually have a familial tradition. It was always just my Mum and I, no close-knit family to speak off, so there were no treks being made in harrowing weather just to eat a relative’s famed pumpkin pie taking place in our lives.

But a classic dessert would come to mean more to me over time and it only dawned on me once I’d moved out on my own.


It was 24th December and I was in a cab on my way to my mum’s place. While we don’t celebrate Christmas, we always spend those few days together, so I had a journey to make even if it only took fifteen minutes. I had on my person the ingredients for trifle and on the drive over I realised with startling clarity that THIS was our tradition. We make trifle. Every year on Christmas Eve, we stand in the kitchen, slicing up cake, layering cream and custard and fruit while arguing over whose method is better, before camouflaging the entire dessert under two inches of crumbled Flake.

We eat trifle only once a year and this was it. This simple, comforting confection helped me understand that I didn’t need a big family or a full house or even snow to have a tradition. It could be just as special with only us two, doing something ordinary like layering sponge cake and it can mean everything. For me, tradition is something to look forward to, something that feels like home. It’s the kind of thing that makes you feel like you belong in that place, with that person, doing that activity. It means you matter to someone.

I know one day we won’t be making anything together anymore and so for all the years we have left to stand in that little kitchen, making a colossal trifle for two, I will treasure this superlative feeling of belonging.

Fadila Henry | @apricotpinks |

Fadila is a writer and blogger who spends far too much of her time watching Seinfeld reruns. She also is a feminist specialising in defending all Singletons everywhere.