Columns - 2009

    Present tension

    by Doug Brook
    Southern Jewish Life columnist

    'Tis the season of Chanukah, the holiday where the only thing higher than the number of nights for giving gifts is the number of spellings of the holiday's name.

    This year, despite the economy, you might have considered straying from the normal routine. Instead of reclaiming last year's presents and rewrapping them, knowing that your loved ones won't notice, you've thought about buying something original this year.

    Traditional gifts prevail at online stores and temple gift shops everywhere. It seems you can count the unusual, fun gifts on one hand, or perhaps in one column. So hold this column with one hand and use the other to count these actual, not-made-up gift items.

    No Limit Texas Dreidel -- On the heels of the recent surge in popularity of Texas Hold 'Em Poker, comes this special variant just for your holiday fun. Part dreidel, part poker, and part dice, No Limit Texas Dreidel's only limitation is that you haven't gone to and bought a set for yourself.

    Worry-Free Flameless Menorahs -- The miracle of Hanukkah is that one day's oil lasted for eight days, keeping Jews warm as they waited in line for the stores to open for after Christmas sales. Wouldn't it be a greater miracle to have a menorah that can burn for eight days with no flame at all?

    Yes, it would, but it turns out Worry-Free Flameless simply means electric. They still look nice, but you'll need to light candles elsewhere to get wax on these menorahs for that lived-in touch. And melted wax on an electric menorah is a great conversation stopper. Or a great way to get company to leave early.

    Chicken Soup & Matzah Ball Keepsake Box -- Whet the appetite of someone you love with this atypical item. Not your bubbe's dresser topper, this keepsake box is not only in the shape of a soup bowl, it looks like it is full of your bubbe's soup including two matzah balls and a spoon sticking out. All that's missing is the steam and guilt. There's even a miniature matzah ball treasure inside, but you won't know if it floats until you buy it.

    While these exhilarating gifts are available on store shelves or internets near you, other gifts have yet to appear but we fully expect should arrive in time for your Hannukah shopping pleasure.

    The iMac AB (iMaccabee) -- This special edition iMac computer is not merely a repackaging to take advantage of the holiday season. As part of the green movement, this iMac's energy efficiency lets it run for eight days on the electricity most computers would use up in just one day.

    Reports that Apple will extend its typical one-year warranty to eight years for the iMac AB are unconfirmed at this time, in keeping with Apple's longstanding policy of not discussing unreleased products, industry rumors, or why Safari won't run on a columnist's iMac after upgrading to Snow Leopard. -- This optimized search engine is the father of all sources for holiday information and gifts. Leading the revolt against the other ubiquitous holiday gift information, takes you not only to exclusively Chanukkah items, it takes you to the most interesting, fun, unique items that go beyond traditional gifts such as candlesticks, challah covers, wine cups, and more menorahs.

    Lute Loot -- You've heard of Hanukah gelt, but another item might be more than you can chew. Instead of mere gold coins filled with chocolate, Lute Loot is chocolate in the shape of the biblical musical instrument, the loot. Your children will no longer harp on their Hanukkah candy being the same every year.

    Hanukkah Stockings -- In this era of computerized everything, it's rare to get actual paper certificates when you buy stock. But it's possible. With this economy, some stocks can be bought at a premium, so why not get stuffed on stock certificates? Do not hang these over the fireplace, unless the company has filed bankruptcy.

    Doug Brook is a writer in Silicon Valley who expects that upon creation of the aforementioned expected gifts he will receive full royalties and accreditation. Or lawsuits. And enough royalties to pay for the lawsuits. For more information, past columns, other writings, and more, visit

    Copyright Doug Brook. All rights reserved.