The Brown's Family Christmas Letter 2014

 Sipping eggnog, giddy with Christmas cheer.

Sipping eggnog, giddy with Christmas cheer.

Merry Christmas! Since 2009 I've been writing our family's annual Christmas letter. It's a newsletter that my parents have been sending out to friends and family since the late 80's. Some of you may know my immediate family members. If you don't, then you will after reading this. So here is the Brown's Family Christmas Letter for 2014.

Greetings, readers. Welcome back to another edition of the Brown’s annual Christmas letter. This publication has become increasingly difficult to write as my immediate family has spread out geographically. I remember when all five of us lived under one roof, aggregating the highlights of each person’s year was a pretty simple process. One by one, I’d have each member of the family sit with me in a cozy nook, in front of a window. I’d provide them with a comforting cup of tea for sipping and a set of open ears for listening. Together we would reflect on the trials and accomplishments of the year. I would then weave those emotional nuggets into a vivid literary quilt of recap. Those were the good old days. Now Ashley and I live in New York City (more on that later), Katie spends most of her time in Wilmington, NC attending college at UNCW and my parents are still in Raleigh, NC. Luckily, through modern day technological advancements, I can still get the pertinent info to include in this letter. So, I now present to you the very first Brown family Christmas letter informed almost entirely by facebook profiles. Let’s begin.

Ashley started off the year with a post encouraging more men to take up pilates, citing the success of NFL players. She continues her career as a NYC-based pilates instructor working primarily out of Real Pilates in Tribeca. If you’re doing pilates elsewhere, you’re probably doing fake pilates. 2014 saw some career highlights for Ashley. First she became a SpringTone teacher trainer. For the uninitiated, that means she’s so good at this particular kind of pilates that she teaches teachers how to teach it. It’s like inception with long lean muscles. Then, later in the year she was quoted in a fitness article on Bustle.com. But if there’s one thing you have to know about Ashley, she’s multi-dimensional. She has layers. She’s not all about pilates. She also runs AND does yoga. Who else do you know that has their hand in so many pies? Her life is a blur of exercise selfies, upscale Manhattan outings, grungy Brooklyn dance parties and tops of the crop variety. Is she single? How forward of you to ask. She’s been enjoying the company of many esteemed gentlemen throughout the year. Some from Harvard, others from Yale, most from OK Cupid.

The most significant event of the year for me came in July when my girlfriend Julie and I left Raleigh, NC and drove a budget truck full of our belongings up to New York City, where we now live. We’re in a cozy little one bedroom apartment in the upper west side of Manhattan. We spend our free time exploring the city and waiting for Ashley to meet us at places. It was hard to walk away from the ever-improving comedy scene of North Carolina where I’d spent the past seven years gaining notoriety and the respect of my peers. Now I’m back to square one but I’m slowly gaining traction here. I quickly found employment at Crossfit 212, a gym in Tribeca no more than 3 blocks away from the pilates studio Ashley works at. Life in New York has been difficult. I’m a much more angry, stressed out person but I’m slowly adjusting to that new identity. During my first two months here I hated it and fantasized about moving back to NC 90% of the time. Now, five months in, I’ve worked that figure down to around 60%. You can read about my New York experiences and keep up with me at my website: Ryanbrowncomedy.com

Katie announced on social media January 6th that she would be taking a class to get her EMT certification. She did manage to pass the class and became a certified EMT. It wasn’t without its challenges. In March she posted about her inability to read my mom’s blood pressure. But, according to her facebook wall circa June 23rd she passed her final exam granting her status as a certified EMT. In February she took on a foster puppy. Ah, the old “foster puppy” trick, wherein a woefully unprepared college student gets a dog and explains to their disapproving parents that at some point in the future it will be taken off their hands by an actual responsible adult with some amount of disposable income. It’s a con first executed by Ashley Brown in 2010. While Ashley may have pioneered this hustle, Katie perfected it. I don’t even think she realized it at the time but she wasn’t actually lying about this financially stable savior who would swoop in and take the burden of caring for Chloe. She just neglected to mention that it would be the very people she was consoling about her terrible decision. When summer came around and Katie realized she could no longer keep the dog in her apartment due to outside factors, Chloe was passed off to Cid and Dave who now own her full time.

That brings us to my parents. I’ll admit I had to cheat a little and get some information from them that cannot be found online since their facebook walls are dedicated primarily to exposing blunders of the federal government. In June Cid and Dave Brown celebrated 30 years of marriage. Their wedding rings haven’t aged a bit.

This summer Dave once again directed the annual “Velo 4 Yellow” bike ride to benefit cancer patients via the LiveStrong foundation. It produced a lot of sweat and money, as always. This year saw record-breaking registration, topping out at over 500 riders. My Dad has always been an engineer and a problem solver. But he’s currently faced with his most challenging project yet; trying to find a way to retire while still supporting all of his vices. He hasn’t cracked the code yet, which means there is still time for you to invest in high-end bourbon before he does.

My parents spent much of the first half of the year living on Topsail Island, NC furnishing and putting the final touches on their beach house so it would be prepared for renting by the summer. During the final week of May the whole family got together and christened the structure with our annual beach vacation. I think it was without a doubt the worst one ever. A lot of the care-free nature of partying in a beach house for the week comes from not owning the house. If you’re renting, when you see something you don’t like you say, “Well that sucks” and then you take a tequila shot. But when you own the house you say “Well that sucks” and proceed to spend the rest of the day fixing it. Hauling a cooler full of beer down to the beach is a labor of love. Hauling truckloads of construction debris to the local dump is just labor… and not a preferred vacation activity.

April proved to be a taxing month for my mom’s heart in more ways than one. First of all, she ran Raleigh’s Rock n’ Roll half-marathon. Also in April, after struggling with health issues for months, our great dane Gypsy had to be put down. She lived 12.5 years, displaying incredible longevity for her breed. We will all remember her fondly. Her life can be seen documented in photos on my mom’s facebook page which is almost as pro-Gypsy as it is anti-Obama.

That’s it. That’s the letter. Boy, I didn’t realize it until just now after reading over the whole thing but 2014 was kind of a downer. It didn’t feel that way while it was unfolding but it doesn’t look good on paper. I mean, let’s review the stats. My parents lost a dog they wanted, and got stuck with one they didn’t thanks to Katie. We had a sub-par family vacation, Ashley can’t find a man worthy of her sweet pilates bod and I moved to a city I’m apparently ill-suited for. To top it all off, we frequently exceeded our 10 GB limit on shared cellular data, incurring added charges from Verizon. Thank God for Ashley’s career milestones, the continued success of “Velo 4 Yellow” and Katie’s EMT certification or we’d have no good news to report. But don’t you go feeling bad for us. The Browns are a strong people. We’ll just keep doing what we’re known for, marching onward and eating very late dinners. Hopefully 2015 has better plans for us. We hope you enjoy the holidays and then the regular days that continue to come after that. Now go to my website.

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