Practical Christmas gifts

When I moved out on my own my parents gave me a going-away present; a basic tool kit, with a small hammer, tape measure, pliers, box knife, and a adjustable screwdriver. Those simple tools saw a lot of use. Though in the years since then my tool collection has grown considerably and I’ve gone through several larger toolboxes (and still don’t have one big enough), I still have some of those original tools. They were a godsend on many occasions.

I also picked up for myself a basic car safety kit. It’s contents have long since been scattered to the four winds, but I believe it included jumper cables, a tire pressure gauge, a small first aid kit, and some reflective hazard markers. I know the jumper cables at least came in handy–until I loaned them to someone and never saw them again.

I believe parents should consider giving one or both of these simple kits to their grown or near-grown kids. More importantly, they should make sure they know how to use each item in them.

I remember a time in college (stop me if I’ve told this story before) when our church group was heading from one activity to another. Along the way I noticed my tire had gone flat, so I pulled off into a nearby parking lot to change it. Pretty soon a fair number of girls from the group had stopped–initially to see if I was okay, and before long to watch me work. None of them had ever seen someone change a tire before and wanted to see how it was done.

As ego-boosting as that was for me, I can’t help but think that some fathers had been negligent in their duty. Possibly even more important than teaching their sons to change a tire would be teaching their daughters. The last thing I’ve ever want for my daughter, at any age, is for her to be stuck on the side of the road somewhere, all alone, unable to change a flat tire. As soon as she’s old enough to drive I intend to teach her that and a few other basic car repair/maintenance tasks.

And yes, I’ll teach my sons, too. If they’re anything like their dad, the automotive tinkering gene is recessive, and such things won’t just come naturally. They’ll need to know how to check the oil, jump the battery, check air pressure, etc. And they’ll need to know where the tool and emergency kits are in each vehicle. And when they do leave home, it’ll be with tool kits of their own.

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