I told my family I don't want anything for Christmas this year.

I lied.

What I said: Because of financial considerations (no money), no one had to buy me anything. And I meant it. Besides, my garage is about to burst with stuff. Not only do I have stuff from a family of five (mine), but I have additional stuff from a couple of other people who have moved to smaller quarters this past year. Sometimes I think, "If only there were a way to make the garage disappear (flamethrower) without harming the rest of the house."

Or someone could buy me an extra garage.

(Lee Hulteng/MCT)

But all this doesn't mean I couldn't use Christmas gifts. I remember making homemade gift certificates as a kid -- you know, "Good for one car wash," "Good for one leaf-raking," "Good for one snowmobile oil change," stuff like that. Generally, the adults never collected and thought it was cute. Best of all, I didn't have to spend any of the money I saved up for bi-weekly 96-ounce Slurpees and Hefty bag-size sacks of Doritos. Clearly, dental hygiene was important to me when I was 11.

More than a promise

I would welcome my kids doing the same thing (giving me homemade gift certificates, not eating 74 pounds of Doritos in one sitting). And I would think it was cute. And it would save them money. But unlike other adults, I would totally collect. Just because a kid is cute doesn't mean they shouldn't have to pay up.


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Yeah, a gift certificate for washing the dog is fine. But what I really want is one promising that the giver will catch the cat and jam her into her crate the next time she has to go to the vet. I had to do that last time, and I ended up needing more medical care than the cat did.

I certainly would appreciate a written promise to clean the fish tank upon demand. But what I really want is one saying that the giver will dig me a large pond in the yard for the water-based reptiles I'll ask for on my birthday.

A gift certificate for one bathroom cleaning would be fine. But I would really prefer a written promise from all my kids that, for one year, no one will announce what they're about to do when they enter my bathroom. Seriously, do you think that only little boys do that? Girls are just as bad, only the laughter is higher-pitched.

Shhhh!

Vacuuming the carpet and sweeping the kitchen are great. But how about, instead, the kids give me a certificate promising that they will stay quiet for an entire afternoon and let me read. Or, better yet, go to a friend's house for 12 hours and let me have a day with my wife. I love my kids and all, but sometimes I get up in the morning and wonder who that strange woman in my bathroom is.

It's important for modern parents (as opposed to those who are here via time travel) to try to share interests with their kids, which I try to do, even though they are girls and I don't understand them. So maybe for Christmas, they could learn the nuances of NFL football or memorize dialogue from "Caddyshack."

Offering to wash my car is wonderful. But how about learning to fix it? I actually floated this one by one of my girls, who looked at me straight-faced and said, "Good luck with that. You should have had a boy."

Wait until she brings home a boy someday, and I don't let her leave with him until he fixes my car.

Contact Tony Hicks at thicks@bayareanewsgroup.com, Facebook.com/bayareanewsgroup.tonyhicks or Twitter.com/insertfoot.