The 2018 Humblebrag Christmas Letter

We're so blessed to have such high-spirited children who play so well together.

Dear Family, Friends, Strangers, and Internet Stalkers,

It's that time of year again! Can you believe another year has flown by? We certainly can't! Where does the time go?

Gomer turned 14 this year. Can you believe it? Where has our baby gone? He's a typical teenager: thoughtful, generous, and loving...whenever he wants something. He's so handsome when he showers and he barely stinks anymore now that he's figured out how to use deodorant regularly.

He's gotten into gaming this year. His Call of Duty score is INsane. We're very proud of him. Jen heard about a university that is going to start offering scholarships for Esports. Fingers crossed Gomer's kill rate is high enough to qualify in case he blows the SAT.

When he's not gaming, he's playing baseball and basketball, and perfecting his Russian Gangster Pose for Instagram.

Instead of making resolutions we'll never keep, we decided to each ruminate and thoughtfully determine a word to define our goals for 2019. Gomer's word for 2019 is: Ragequit.

Adolpha is 12. Almost a teenager! Sob! She wants to be a YouTuber, but she can't decide if her channel should focus on her love of cozy onesies, squishy stuffed animals, or high-end makeup. Her smokey eye is on point and it looks incroyable with her unicorn onesies.

She's lovely, but will be absolutely stunning once we get her braces off. We could have taken two cruises for what we've spent on her mouth, but she's worth every penny. It's almost like an investment in her YouTube career. We're talking to the accountant about making orthodontia a business expense. 

She learned about male fragility this year when she joined a basketball team, and then wasn't asked back because she didn't smile at the coach enough. His feelings were terribly hurt and we're sending him thoughts and prayers for a speedy recovery. (Jen would like to assure you that you needn't worry about the coach. He's still in one piece and there's no need for a welfare check.)

When she's not snuggling her stuffed animals or perfecting her winged eyeliner, Adolpha can be found on Snapchat looking like a cute dog or a Russian Gangster's Girlfriend.

Adolpha's word for 2019 is: Haul.

The Hubs has become a tech mogul this year. Well, he's on the path to becoming a tech mogul. He's been working tirelessly on his startup and devouring business books. Jen had no idea he knew how to read! For the first 15 years of their marriage, Jen was convinced he could only read headlines and captions under photos. He's read more books this year than Jen has! His company is on an upward trajectory and he's assured Jen that in the next 10 years he'll turn a profit and Fyllan will be a verb or he'll find a "real" job. When he's not reading, he's still selling houses and growth-hacking his LinkedIn.

The Hubs's word for 2019 is: Decacorn.

Jen has put on so many bras and pairs of pants and left the house this year. She knew she was a bonafide frequent flier when Southwest sent her 3 free drink coupons and Holiday Inn gave her free wi-fi and breakfast every time she stayed there. Talk about preferential treatment! That's how the elites of the world travel.

Besides pants, she's even donned some dresses. Yeah, that's right, Jen's fallen in with a philanthropic crowd that likes to frequent galas and balls. Jen is a very entertaining plus-one, or so she's been told.

She's written a lot and even started emailing her Super Friends this year. She says it's just like having thousands of Pen Pals she can email every day and describe her lunch to. She couldn't be happier. When she's not writing, publishing, speaking, signing books, or winging her way to the far reaches of suburban America, Jen can be found napping.

Jen's word for 2019 is: A-B-C.

We wish you nothing but a peaceful, joyful, and wonder-filled holiday season and a prosperous new year!

The Mann Family

Am I the Only One Who Thinks This Christmas Song is Rapey?

How is it in the 40-plus years I've been listening to Christmas music, I've never actually listened to it?

Let me explain: It was Black Friday. My mother and I were out and about maxing out our credit cards and throwing elbows for seven dollar waffle irons. After several hours of shopping, my mom faded and dropped out to go home to bed. Wussy.

The Trouble with Ta-Tas

If you follow my personal page on Facebook, then you know I had a little trouble with my boobs last week. I know, I know. I'm always having trouble with my boobs, but this was a new, even for me. My friend Nicole invited me to a fancy gala. I'm usually in pajamas on a Saturday night, but there's something about Nicole that makes willing to put on not just pants, but a dress even, and leave my house. So I said yes when she asked me. But I needed to wear a dress. I didn't want to buy a new dress and I had a dress in my closet but it needs a special low cut bra. (Side note: when you're a woman with breasts of a certain size, you need some serious structure and a low cut bra never cuts it, so I don't buy that shit on the regular. Because of this, I didn't have the right bra in my bounty of boulder holders.) So, I trekked to the mall and tried on a trillion titty traps (haha, like there'd be a trillion to choose from. There are exactly two in my size). I got the right bra but when I put it on with the dress, it was like, "Oh shit! My eyes! So. Much. Cleavage!" Basically, my boobs were poking me in the chin. And my dress was screaming, "Mercy! Mercy! I can't take anymore!" and it was popping wide open for the world to giggle at my goodies.

I realized I just needed a little tape. How do the movie stars do it when they show just enough side boob, but not all of it? How do their nipples literally hold up a dress? I figured there must be magic tape out there! So I did a Google search and I came up with something called Hollywood Fashion Secrets Tape. Aha! I knew there was something! So I bought a tin of the tape.

Here's the thing about this tape. I'm sure it works great if you're just trying to keep a small gap in your shirt closed or if you want to keep your necklace in place or something simple and easy like that. But if you're working on an engineering project that requires a third hand, this is not the tape for you.

I was devastated. So I turned to the "real" Google, my Facebook friends. I asked them, "Is there such a thing as double-sided duck tape?"

After many suggestions that included things like "rubber glue" and "Velcro strips,"  a friend told me a secret: "I used to work in a bridal store and we gave brides rolls of double-sided carpet tape and called it 'dress tape.'"

WHAAAAAT??? That sounded like just the thing I needed, but I knew I'd need help, so I contacted my sister-in-law Ida.

Ida isn't an engineer or a fashion designer or anything like that, but Ida is the person I call when I need shit done, especially if it involves my boobs.

Wait. That didn't sound right. Maybe I should explain.

Let me take you back many, many, many years ago. Ugh, so many years ago. Remember how young we were, Ida?? It was my first time meeting Ida. In those days she was my brother's girlfriend and they were serious, but I didn't know yet she'd be my sister-in-law. I'd flown into town for a wedding and I'd tried to pack light. I thought one bra for the entire weekend would suffice. I'd forgotten that the dress I'd packed for the weekend required a special bra. The special bra would minimize (aka SQUEEEEZE) my boobs to smaller size and allow me to button the front of the dress. My normal bra was like, "Fuck that, I need my space" and would not allow the front of the dress to button.

And so I found myself locked in my brother's bathroom topless and panicking. I'd brought nothing else even remotely appropriate for a wedding. I didn't have time to run out to the nearest department store, get measured, and hope I'd find another bra that would wrangle my girls into submission. What the fuck was I going to do???

That's when I heard a gentle tap on the door. "Jen, everything okay?" Ida asked. "We need to go soon..."

"I'm coming..." I whimpered. "I just need a few minutes to, uhhh..." I looked around frantically, hoping I could MacGyver a solution. Like what? Make a bra out a bath towel and toothpaste?

"Jen?" Ida whispered. "You don't sound okay? What's going on? Can I help?"

At that moment I knew I needed help. I didn't have another solution. I couldn't ask my brother for help. (VOMIT.) I couldn't even ask the Hubs for help. He wasn't the Hubs yet. He was just some guy I was dating and I couldn't tell him all my secrets yet! Ida was my only hope.

Shamefaced, I unlocked the door and let her in.

"I can't do up my top," I cried. "I packed the wrong bra."

Ida surveyed the situation like a pro and did some quick calculations in her head. Finally, she nodded with certainty and asked, "Can I touch you? I'm going to have to touch you to help you."

"Just make sure your hands are warm," I said.

"I'll be right back." Ida went out the door and I heard her assuring the menfolk that we'd be ready soon. I heard her rummaging through cabinets and drawers.

When Ida came back she had a large roll of duck tape and a pair of scissors.

"Oh God," I whimpered.

"This will work," Ida reassured me. And then she went to work duck taping the shit out of my boobs.

You know those cartoons where people work so fast that clouds of dust puff up and you can't see what's happening and then the dirt clears and the transformation is revealed? That's how I felt that day. Ida worked fast and furious and then stepped back to admire her work. I looked in the mirror.

I'm not going to say they looked good. In fact, they were a little square and definitely off-center. BUT that dress buttoned up and that's what I needed.

We headed out. The Hubs gave my chest a funny look, but wisely did not comment.

It was close to ninety degrees that night and at one point I could feel sweat loosening the gum on the tape and I could feel tiny pings as the tape lost its grip. "Ida," I whispered. "I think I'm going to blow."

Ida shook her head. "A few layers might go, but you'll hold. And if you don't, I'm prepared." She opened her purse to show me the roll of tape and scissors tucked inside.

The tape held that night and Ida and I formed a bond that cannot be undone.

This week, almost 20 years later, she came to my rescue again, showing up at my house with double-sided carpet tape she'd found after scouring at least two hardware stores. I didn't need her hands on help this time, but it was nice to know I had her on speed dial in case I needed her to handle my hooters.

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