for my birthday. A sewing machine. If I can set it in an out-of-the-way place, and surround it in an anti-false-expectations shield, it could come in handy.
My kids have recently worn through the knees of untold numbers of pants, and if I had a machine, I could turn them into shorts rather than throw them away.
I could also crank out some custom home-decor from time to time. My mom came over last week with her machine and spent four hours turning my IKEA panels into two sets of window treatments. If I could just teach myself to thread the machine, I could do things like curtains myself! I half-sewed Cayna's Easter dress last year, and decided that from a practical standpoint, sewing clothes isn't worth the effort - but some projects might be.
So... no ridiculous image of becoming a professional designer, but no wimping out on reading another owner's manual. I'm 38, - turning 39. Almost to that "Old Dog" age when I can't learn new tricks. Gotta quick figure out which of the new tricks are worth undertaking now.