As Valentine’s Day looms large again, I am feeling pressured to perform.
My husband and I swap roles in some traditional areas — he cooks, I take out the garbage; he creates hand-made cards with personalized messages on special occasions, I manage the finances and do our taxes; he is full of beautiful, thoughtful, romantic ideas and I . . . am not.
On previous Valentine’s Days, he has surprised me with lingerie he designed and sewed himself; had the driveway and stairs festooned with tea lights leading to a candlelit bath with floating rose petals; and crafted me a stained-glass mirror crowned with love birds and swans sand-blasted into the bottom.
While I’ve showered him with flowers, chocolates and spa treatments for past February 14ths, recent years have taken a different turn.
I’ve shifted toward providing practical, oft-requested items like an ice cream maker, a dry-bag for his gear while he’s tree-planting and, what must rank in the Top 10 for unromantic offerings — a pressure cooker.
This year, I’m thinking how useful gators for cross-country skiing would be.
Yes, I’m kind of like the dorky guy who buys his wife a vacuum for their anniversary while my husband is romantically gifted and effortlessly does all the right things (at least Cupid smiles on one of us!).
Looking for inspiration, I spotted some ideas in a recent Globe and Mail. For $9,000 we could spend four nights heli-skiiing at a lodge in Idaho or there was a two-night stay in the presidential suite of a New York hotel, including a diamond gift from Cartier.
But with an $80,000 price tag on the latter, I opted to scour for more economical options.
Maybe a trip to nearby Halcyon Hot Springs? Nah, already did it. Ditto for Ainsworth, visiting the beautifully renovated Kaslo Hotel and enjoying the view from a lakefront room in Nelson.
The gators were starting to look pretty good again when a grey-haired Italian from Trail popped into my brain.
“Food is love,” Trail chef Dino Santarossa once explained during a local cooking class.
It begins with the consideration given to what dish to make, the time spent going to the store to carefully choose and purchase ingredients, pouring energy into the cooking, presenting the meal and seeing that ever so satisfied smile on your loved one’s face.
Dino’s story has resonated more strongly over the years as I’ve learned how to whip up dishes beyond nachos, and in doing so, gained a greater appreciation of the culinary efforts of others.
Just thinking about how good it makes me feel to find thoughtful extras stuck into my lunch bag — a Tupperware container containing celery and carrot sticks in salad dressing nearly moved me to tears last week — well, what better way to show someone you love them than by feeding them?
So instead of doing the easy and predictable this Valentine’s, I’m scrapping the gators and will instead dish up my darling a piece of my heart — on a plate.
Wonderful gem that he is, I know he’ll eat it up (no matter how undercooked, overcooked or strange it might be). That’s amore!
Tracy Gilchrist is managing editor of the Times