There are few material things you can give kids that will make such a difference in their lives as good tools. Carpentry tools, woodworking tools, mechanic’s tools, plumbing tools, metalworking tools, electrician’s tools, — kitchen tools! blacksmith’s tools! — tools for servicing appliances, computers, mechanical devices.
The card should say “Dear One: Build things. Make things. Fix things. Take apart the world and see how it works. Then make it work again.”
We go through our lives depending on auto mechanics, electricians, plumbers, service and repair people. We stand back and feel disempowered as someone else makes our everyday lives work, and then charges us handsomely for it. (We also get rooked more often than we want to know.)
If you learn from an early age to live hands-on, to understand how things work and how things are made, to engage the world with your own powerful hands and mind, you become somehow realer than those who have to depend on somebody else for everything. You’re also able to help friends and family in ways that few others in your family will be able to (the hardest lesson will be learning to say no!).
If you have a feminist bone in your body, give your little girl tools. If you understand what it means to be a complete, independent man, give your little boy tools. If you want to be the uncle, the aunt, the cousin, the friend who gets remembered for giving a lifetime of real power over into the hands of your young loved one, give them tools.
(And yes, tools are dangerous. Everything powerful is. Make sure the power of the gift comes with the precautionary knowledge and respect that makes it safer.)