Author’s Note:  It is with mixed emotion that I publish the post below today.  I’m not sure how long it will take to feel “normal” after last week.  But I offer a bit of this “blogging as usual” in absence of any grand explanations or offers of solace – both which I have none of right now.  I can share that despite my material recommendations below, I know that our greatest gift is each other.  I just wish we didn’t have to hurt so badly to remember.   Love to you all.

I must say it is a relief to me that Hanukah is over for another year.  It’s not that I don’t enjoy the holiday – I do.  Very much so.  Despite the fact that it is an uberly-minor holiday in the Jewish religion, it is the one around which I have the most fond memories, the most family traditions, and the most joy.  But this year has been so terribly crazy with work and other obligations, that we weren’t the least bit prepared.  And when I say “we” I mean “me” as I am clearly the chairman of gift shopping committee.  I called this the Just-in-Time Hanukah, with the gifts I planned for the boys arriving from Amazon in the morning only to be quickly wrapped and given that night after our candle lighting.

The opportunity to fail miserably was extremely high.  Adding to the complexity was the fact that I was shopping for two teenage boys who were not terribly helpful in providing guidance as it relates to their wants and needs.  Their response to “What do you want?” ranged from “Nothing” to “I’d like to visit Italy,” depending upon when you asked them.  So I had to start from scratch – and get creative quickly.

A few years ago, when Hanukah fell early in December, I shred here on MoB those presents that were complete hits with my kids — as a gift to my Christmas-celebrating friends who were still wrestling with choices for their own offspring.  Many MoB readers appreciated the ideas so today I am happy to offer a few ideas for parents whose teen and tween kids are hard to shop for.  Here are this year’s winners (links part of headers):

The Disco Shower

For those of you who have fantasized about buying something from SkyMall but have never had the urge or absolute necessity to do so, I say to you: Give it a try.  This little gem of a gift was discovered and purchased in a complete panic on the way home from San Francisco two days before Hanukah began.   Easily installed, this shower head is powered by the water and changes colors at least six different times.  Both my boys spend a good deal of time in the shower each morning anyway.  Now they do so in the dark in multiple hues and shades.  Dave and I are thinking of getting one for ourselves.  For those who have kids who are at the age where showers are tough, the disco shower is an incredible motivator.  Companion gift recommendation:  Buy an egg timer to go with it as it has already made their long showers longer.

The Panini Maker

One might argue that kitchen gadgets and appliances are a bad idea.  We all have the ice cream makers, bread makers, quesadilla makers, and cotton candy makers that were used with great enthusiasm once and then put on a very high shelf for all of eternity.  But teenage boys – at least my boys – are all about making their own super extravagant culinary creations.  They watch Top Chef and Chopped and are all about experimenting in the kitchen.  So why not help control the chaos and buy something non-stick?  The Panini maker offers great flexibility with a variety of uses that they can explore themselves. And its fun for the whole family.  The day after the great Hanukah Panini night, I found myself making the World’s Best Grilled Fluffer Nutter sandwich of all time.  Being Chairman of the Committee has its benefits.  Companion gift recommendation:  The Everything Panini Press Cookbook for inspiration.

Character T-Shirts

My boys are not big clothes shoppers and for this I am truly grateful.  But it would be nice to purchase something that they would like to wear, if only for variety.  So, I thought about the TV shows they truly love to watch, the characters they discuss ad nauseum with their friends, and the videos they replay again and again on the computer.   I wish I could tell you that I purchased them wholesome Harry Potter or nerdy Myth Busters, but this year it was all about raunchy Family Guy.  I just Googled “Family Guy” and “t-shirts”.  The hardest part as choosing from the vast collection.  I knew it was a success when they both declared that they each got the “best one” and promptly wore them to school the next day.   Another night of Hanukah down, and another opportunity to remind them how cool their Mom is for “getting it.”


For all the times I have cursed Bed Bath and Beyond for its ability to suck you into the impulse purchase vortex, I am sorry.  This place is a freaking gold mine for last minute shoppers.   And when you use your 14 bijillion 20 percent off coupons, everything is almost free.  Dave and I ran through this store in under an hour on the Saturday that Hanukah began.  The iPhone speakers spoke to me but Dave was skeptical.   However, these suckers pack a HUGE punch, are extremely portable. The boys had a blast playing me music over Skype as I phoned in Hanukah on Monday night from NYC.  Companion gift recommendation:   A 10 minute dance party taking turns playing DJ.   Nothing feels better than dancing with your kids – even if you no longer understand the music.

Guitar Pick Punch

I bought this for Noah on the spot when we saw it at Urban Outfitters.  It lets you make guitar picks out of credit cards, gift cards, hotel room keys, etc.  For the music enthusiast, it is the ideal gift.  We now have 1000 guitar pics ready for use.  They look super cool – and offers a chance to recycle the plastic.  Fun!

Gloves – With a Twist

No teenager gets excited about gloves as a gift, but texting gloves?  Oh yeah.  These gloves allow the boys to stay warm and text their friends at the same time.  Win-win for mom and kiddos. Now if it would just get cold.

The biggest gift to me this year was running the Hanukah gauntlet without purchasing a single video game – something I honestly didn’t think could be done.  Perhaps there is something to this Just-in-Ttime Hanukah thing.  I hope so because next year – my Rabbi tells me – Hanukah begins around Thanksgiving.

To all my Christmas celebrating friends – see you on the other side in about a week!  The view from here is really nice.

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