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Milwaukee's Daily Magazine for Thursday, Aug. 21, 2014

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For the record: a roll of tape is a crappy Hanukkah present, on the first night or the last.
For the record: a roll of tape is a crappy Hanukkah present, on the first night or the last.

Hanukkah gift giving generates confusion

Velia Tarnoff -- wife of OnMilwaukee.com publisher Andy Tarnoff and a friend of mine -- recently posted a link on her Facebook page to a list of "Eight Questions Gentiles Love Asking About Hanukkah."

One of the questions on the list asks, "Do you really get a present every night, and if you do, is it just like socks?"

I am no expert in the Hebrew Arts, but because my father was Jewish -- making me what Andy Tarnoff and I refer to as Jew-ish -- I am still often the go-to girl for anything related to non-Christian holidays, the teachings of The Torah and even once, the spelling of the word "yarmulke."

That said, I particularly appreciated this list because an acquaintance -- in a bar, no less -- asked me about the rules of gift giving during Hanukkah. Before I could really answer, she proceeded to tell me that she had heard that Jews give small gifts on the first night "like a roll of tape" and a bigger and bigger gift every night, until the eighth and final night, when they get "something like a Wii."

Um, sure? This is possible -- well, except the roll of tape part, that’s a lame present for any of the December holidays -- but the truth is, not surprisingly, that every family has its own rules, usually not hard and fast, about giving presents at Hanukkah.

I particularly liked Velia’s comment, after I told her, via a Facebook  post, about my friend who thought the gifts had to gradually increase in value.

"Personally, I think (Hanukkah) gift-giving should have a certain rhythm. Start off big. Bring it down. Maybe spike in the middle. Bring it home on the last night. Kinda like a DJ," she wrote.

And it's the last night of Hanukkah, Milwaukee. Light 'em if you got 'em.

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