Obligatory Family Holiday Stuff

I like most of my family. I do not waste my time on those family members whom I do not like, their pathetic attempts to induce holiday guilt notwithstanding. Funny, I haven't spoken to some of these people in over a dozen years and they still think they can guilt slash bribe me into calling them. Or visiting. Or even acknowledging their existence. They just don't get it. I really like Christmas. I'm not going to spoil it by concerning myself with unpleasant people.

On a marginally-related note, has anyone had any pleasant experiences with any of the various gift-card exchange services on the Internets?

Most of the family members I do like come to my mother's house for the Christmas. This year, some came early for my little sister's graduation party. I say little, but she is only four years younger than I am. She just graduated from University with a business degree. Yay, her.

The day before her party, she had an interview with a local sales firm. Or at least, that's what she thought she had. She found the position through online job-hunt service Monster Dot Com. The position was advertised as being with High-Profile Sales Firm A. She was excited. The interview was an all-day affair. Now, in the legal world, all-day interviews mean fancy lunches, meeting the partners, chatting with associates, cigars, expensive liquor, and high-profile social affairs. Alas, my poor sister arrived at her interview to discover several unfortunate things.

First, the position for which she was being interviewed was not with High-Profile Sales Firm A, but with No-Name Back-Door Shady Firm B, which only had a passing business association with High-Profile Sales Firm A. To wit, they shared an office. No-Name Back-Door Shady Firm B didn't even have its own offices.

The business cards were home-printed. And had colorful graphics.

And it turns out, "all-day interview" means shadowing someone doing door-to-door business solicitations in area strip-malls.

A truck-driver offered her ten extra dollars to take a ride in his truck with him.

She got a citation from the police for soliciting without a license.

The poor thing was traumatized, and immediately decided to go to graduate school to get her MBA. She said to me, "If these are college-educated people, I want nothing to do with them." I promised her I would blog about her experience.

Unlike Filbbert, I have a really neat sister. She lives near me, and we do stuff together sometimes.

Some 40 people showed up at the house for her party. I knew she was much better at the making friends thing than I am, but this was ridiculous! I don't like crowds of people, especially people I don't know, making inane conversation and drinking too much wine. I hid in the kitchen most of the time, and spent some time talking with a friend of the family (who also happens to be an attorney) about law school. Yet again, law school manages to taint every corner of my life.

I did make an extraordinary triple-chocolate peppermint cake, though.


Yes, those are candied mint leaves. It was a major hit. The recipe is here. I followed it exactly except that I used only 1/2 cup of chocolate chips in the cake batter, because I couldn't find miniature chips and I thought 1 1/2 cups of full-size chocolate chips would make the cake way too chunky, and I baked it in two pans instead of one. They took only about 28 minutes to bake.

The chopping of the chocolate, however, was quite time-consuming. All in all, I spent about 4 hours on it, excluding the buying of ingredients, forgetting the cake pan, and having to drive all the way back to the Wal-Mart to get it. It became known in the family as the "All-Day Cake," and I have been informed that I will be asked to make it again in the future.

After the party, the rest of Christmas was mostly unremarkable. I kept alive my three-year-old tradition of being miserably sick on and around Christmas, but that didn't stop me from making the most of it. I'll spare you the unpleasant details of this year's ailment, but I should make a general warning never to sneeze while eating raw cauliflower.

Tom G Varik