It's the holidays. And what more perfect time for Mrs. Linklater to butt into people's lives and save them from themselves, after the advice columnists go first, of course.
Published December 6, 2004, Chicago Tribune
Dear Amy: I have a middle-age sibling who is pretentious, self-centered and must always be the center of attention.
Every year my siblings and I get together at Mom's house for the holidays, and I've stopped enjoying these visits.
My brother has to be in the limelight throughout these visits. He never gets tired of talking about himself, barely listens to anyone else, and he can get very cross when he thinks someone is trying to outdo him.
His Christmas gifts come with long explanations about where they come from and how unique they are, etc. When he brings food and drinks, he has to show everything around and talk about what exclusive shops they came from, blah blah blah.
I can't face another holiday season of the nonsense. Mom never discourages his insatiable desire for attention and accolades, and I've had enough.
I want to spend the holidays quietly at home with my husband. How can I stay away from these gatherings without offending my family?
-- Sick of the Show
Dear Sick: I think the answer here might be to split the difference -- and develop a good exit strategy.
Your siblings and mother might not mind your brother as much as you do, or perhaps they travel to that special holiday headspace where many things are tolerable -- as long as the eggnog doesn't run out. While others might tell you to confront this bore, I don't think Christmas is the day to do it.
If you choose to stay home this year, you don't have to offer all sorts of explanations. However, if the distance between your homes permits, perhaps you could join your family only for dessert this year, with a set time to leave and a definite plan to do so.
Mrs. Linklater knocks over the punch bowl and butts in:
Sounds like this allegedly self-centered, attention grabbing brother might be giving his siblings some very nice, very expensive gifts and all anybody has to do to get them is listen to his stories about where they came from. While eating his expensive food. Sign me up.
Oh, sorry, we have put up with his whiny, footstomping sister because she is sick and tired of his pretentious fur coats and Tiffany jewelry and thinks it’s time to take a stand!!! Drama Queen alert!
So, Miss Hissy Fit, you’re saying if he doesn’t stop with the generosity -- okay he's a little full of himself, too -- you’re going to what? Stay Home. Sounds like a plan to me!!! Mrs. Linklater smells envy. Mom always like him better huh? And your ten dollar Starbuck’s gift cards aren’t getting the applause you hoped for? Neener neener neener.