How a knife set that never was taught me a lesson that for years had gone untaught.
Now that the holidays are over, I figured it would be the perfect time to reflect on the gift that almost was. Deb and I do a lot of cooking in our miniature East Village-style kitchen, so I came up with the perfect Christmas/Hanukah gift: a sweet-ass knife set. Something we'd use 3, 4, 5 times a week. Slicing and dicing Trader Joe's tastiest treats with ease. Now, Deb's quite the chef. I mean, this girl can whip up Eggs Benny finer than the nearest diner. (Exhibit A: My holiday goodness-infused waistline.) Making due with our paltry collection of 3 knives, I can only imagine the creations that would spew from our kitchen given an entire set of top-notch cutlery.
Then the universe decided I needed a Christmas Corral-like introspective. First, during a pre-holiday get together, a bunch of us were discussing gifts at my favorite Scottish watering hole, Shoolbred's. Unsolicited, Deb opined that knives were perhaps the worst gift ever. I scanned my spotty memory to see if I had done anything to give away my self-proclaimed genius idea, and she was simply positioning for something more romantic. Nothing. She randomly picked on knives because she despised the idea of receiving them so, in the process uncovering the fact that my brain is subconsciously wired towards giving the worst gift ever. It makes perfect sense in a universe-messing-with-me type of way.
That was only the beginning. A few days later, I saw this viral video for JC Penney from Saatchi & Saatchi New York. Hm. I've heard of this metaphorical doghouse, but I'd never heard it pain-stakingly explained in such detail. Perhaps my life-long philosophy of giving functional gifts wasn't as foolproof as I had previously inclined. Perhaps some blame should fall to my mom, who never fails to request useful contraptions like shoulder bags, skiing thermals, a new oven or a Bluetooth headset. I mean, who wants something you can hardly ever use like fine jewelry or sensually-scented bubble bath, when something practical like knives or a vacuum could be broken out and used a few times each week, a constant reminder of holiday joy? Am I wrong here?
Now I was really looking forward to a nice knife set laying around the house, beckoning for fine meats, crisp vegetables, mouth-watering cheeses, and slow-handed intruders. Wouldn't it be pleasant for the two of us to slice and chop next to each other, a la chef and sous chef, wafts of garlic flowering throughout the kitchen? Perhaps. But the holidays are not the time for knives. Hence my new gift-giving philosophy: The less practical the gift, the better.
So is there ever a right time to give the useful gift of everyday functionality? The answer, simply, is no. Luckily, we really don’t have room in our apartment for more than three knives anyway. And there's always room for rubies.