Ah, the holidays. The time of year when feminine women are subjected to….loads of awful tat. “It’s pink and sparkly! I thought of you!” Mmmm, you shouldn’t have. You really shouldn’t have. What femme hasn’t forced a smile when presented with a jereboam of petroleum-product based moisturizer, a so-not-you necklace, a cheap perfume?
It’s also a time of year when, for me, being half-Jewish comes up. More about that in a minute. So, here, on the first of the eight nights of Chanukah, are my recommendations for eight nights’ worth of stylish and modestly priced gifts that won’t wind up “regifted” by June.
- Under $10 – Quality natural lip balm –These are the flash drives of our beauty kits, you can never have enough of them.
- Under $20 – Scullys rose or lavender hand creams (a favorite with my friends overseas).
- $15 to $35 – Interesting tights – peach-toned fishnets, Iwi stockings, a chic shade of Columbine opaques. A We Love Colors gift certificate is great if you’re not sure of the size.
- $20 to $45 – An eyeliner brush, a good one. $45 on an item slimmer than a pencil? I use this wee brush almost every day.
- $25 to $60 – Vintage bead necklace – 18 inches is a great wearable length. Graduated beads, i.e., beads that go from small to large, are more polished looking. Look for glass and semiprecious stone, in a favorite or classic color.
- $40 to $60 – FranceLuxe hair clip or other hair ornament. My caramel FranceLuxe claw clip is 8 years old and still going strong.
- Variable – Something truly personal that deviates from the mall stereotypes of ‘a gift’. Last year two young men gave me a squeaky rubber chicken that delighted me far more than ghastly moisturizer.
Ah, being half-Jewish. In this era of Sarah Silverman and Palestinian recognition, being half-Jewish remains awkward – at one point an Orthodox Jewish boyfriend broke up with me because I wasn’t Jewish enough. Apart from that, my flash point of awkwardness is the December holidays. Where I was brought up, in the Northeast of the US, Christmas and Chanukah were on an even footing – or so it seemed to me . Because my mother was (is? Mom, any updates?) Anglican, we were on the Christmas side of the festivities. Our Jewish friends came over to help decorate the tree and join us at Christmas dinner. Later, I moved to New Zealand, and … something wasn’t right. I felt it most in December, despite an incident one October where I said, “I made a challah for Rosh Hashana,” and the response was, “You made a what for who?” No outdoors menorah lighting? No Chanukah invitations? NO LATKES??? I acquired my own menorah and the Joan Nathan Jewish Holiday Cookbook, and took it from there…alternating annually between Christmas and Chanukah parties for my friends. After all that, it’s a Christmas year at my abode! But I’ll be making a few latkes and lighting some candles soon.