There's is no greater pressure in the holiday gifting season than between partners and spouses. My husband and I decided early on in our relationship that we wanted to be a little different about gift giving. Most of the time, we give each other tokens we call Happy Presents. A random Tuesday, or just because. If one of us sees something we think is perfect for the other, we don’t wait, we just give. For regular anniversaries we trade cards, and then try to pick out something together for both of us, usually something for our home or a piece of art. For the odometer anniversaries, we trade gifts. And for the holidays, we tend to not worry about gifting at all.
Which doesn’t mean that we aren’t generous with each other at the holidays. Whether it is cooking for each other, or opening a special bottle of wine, or doing a household task the other is usually expected to do, we try and make the season special for each other. And the one gift that my husband always gives me at this time of year, is the one I look most forward to. He takes all of our knives and has them professionally sharpened in early November so that as I embark on all of the intensive cooking for the season, my tools are at their best. I never asked him to do it, he just started the first year we were dating, and has done it every year.
It isn’t a huge thing, and yet it speaks volumes. It is partially self-preservation, because he knows that I’m naturally klutzy and the more on my plate the klutzier I get, and the most dangerous tool in the kitchen after a klutzy chef is a dull knife. He would rather get all the knives together, drive them to the sharpener, and then return a day later to pick them up than have to cart me to urgent care to get my fingers glued back together. But it also is such a lovely and tender acknowledgement that the cooking and baking I do during this season is the most important and special cooking I do all year, and it means that whether I am testing a new holiday recipe to share with my readers or making part of our Thanksgiving dinner or New Year’s celebration, every time I reach for a knife, it makes me smile.
Watch: How to Hone a Knife like a Chef
While I do own a knife sharpener, and use it when necessary, having the knives sharpened by a pro is just better than anything I can do myself, and the gift of a sharpener, which might seem thoughtful, unless it has been specifically requested, feels more like assigning a task than doing something nice for your partner. Think about how many sit-com holiday episodes have been based on the premise of a bumbling guy gifting a vacuum cleaner to his lady and you’ll get the picture.
If you want to be the hero of your favorite cook’s holiday season, find a reputable knife sharpener near you, and get their gear holiday ready.
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