Eleven Pipers Piping – Calling Attention to Ourselves

It’s normal to want people’s attention.

During the holidays, when pretty much everybody’s attention is focused on something other than us–cooking, the beautiful lights, the kids opening their presents, family we don’t get to see very often, or a hundred other things–it’s entirely understandable.

But it’s not always healthy, for us or the people we love.

Every family, I think, has an Uncle Charlie, a member who seems to enjoy being the center of attention at holiday gatherings. It’s not usually because he’s the most interesting person in the room; in fact, he might normally be the least interesting. Maybe he calls attention to himself because he’s never the center of attention anywhere else, and he feels safe enough among family to figuratively scream at us: Notice me!

He may not do anything as flamboyant as tying his tie around his head and dancing in the living room. His behavior may be as subtle as loudly announcing what each present is before the child has a chance to finish unwrapping it, or getting stumbling drunk so someone has to drive him home, or eating too much and loudly complaining of a stomachache. He may simply slip out without saying goodbye some time after dinner, knowing somebody will ultimately ask, Where’s Uncle Charlie? That will probably get him a call from his mother later, however old he is.

Whatever he does, it’s probably just on the edge of obnoxious: not quite enough to get him called out then and there, but enough that everybody knows he’s in the room. Enough that the kids aren’t the center of attention for the brief moment he is.

The kids don’t have to be the center of everyone’s attention the whole time, of course. Grown-ups are allowed to have time together. But it’s odorous for any of us to call attention to ourselves just because others’ attention is elsewhere. Better by far to live so that people other than our family notice us during the year, so we don’t feel the need to call attention to ourselves during the holidays.

I've been a soldier, a dreamer, a working stiff, a leader. A husband, father, example (good and otherwise), and now a survivor. I write about courage, because courage is what enables us to accomplish the impossible. If you draw breath, I love you. If you love in whatever way seems best to you and want others to love in whatever way seems best to them, I am your ally. If you believe someone is less than you because they do not love the way you do, I oppose you. If you see someone as a threat to be abused or destroyed merely because they do not look like you, or love like you, or worship like you, I am your enemy. I am a joyful and courageous man. And I stand with you who love.