The Media's Yearly War on Uncles

The holiday season is all about turkey, presents, and calling your mom's brother a piece of shit

Senior man struggling to hear a friend in a discussion isolated on white background
as a brother of a father of daughters

My favorite time of year has arrived: It’s Uncle Season.

There is no time more trying for the brothers of mothers and fathers than the stretch of weeks from November 15 to January 1. During Thanksgiving and Christmas, family-oriented holidays that include among their traditions long stretches of boredom during meals and intergenerational screaming about polycule lesbians teaching children critical race theory at the Texas border, uncles everywhere descend upon family gatherings ready to wreak havoc at a moment’s notice. Or at least that is what the mainstream media would have you believe.

Take a look at some of this anti-uncle agitprop published just in the last couple of days in anticipation of Uncle Season:

How to talk about vaccines with anti-vaxxers, deniers, and belligerent uncles at Thanksgiving (Poynter)

Should you go to Thanksgiving with your unvaccinated uncle? Experts help make the decision (CNN)

Whether it's that uncle whose looked at one too many Facebook posts and thinks he knows "what's really going on," or a sibling still nursing a grudge that goes back to the Nixon administration, families can be … a lot. (CBS Sunday Morning)

A turkey shortage might spoil more Thanksgiving dinners this year than food poisoning, political family differences, or your drunk uncle (The Star Press)

Once again, the media is promoting the same forgone conclusion: everything uncles touch will get soaked in bad politics and lukewarm beer (my uncles always drink out of bottles because aluminum is for “college kids”) and turn to ruin. And I hear them — uncles can suck, especially when they ask me if I’ve lost some weight every single time they’ve seen me since I was thirteen, or when they express any opinion at all.

I wasn’t around for the Vietnam War or the Iran-Contra Affair, but I do remember the tenor of holiday discussions in the aftermath of 9/11. Uncles everywhere were losing their minds. At my house, my uncles were directly trying to sabotage the play that my sister and cousin and I wrote about Christopher Columbus discovering Haiti because our public school-educated asses got confused about what Thanksgiving was. Maybe if the performance had gone as planned my life would look very different now.

This is all to say: I’ve been there. I hate uncles too. But in these unprecedented times, I need you all to extend a little grace to these poor souls, understanding that it might not necessarily be reciprocated. Yes, uncles can be drunk, racist, and belligerent — but don’t let a few bad apples destroy the reputation of an entire community. Think of how much Taylor Swift loved an uncle once. Think of all the songs that have been written about an uncle looking into his nephew’s eyes and finding serenity — here, I made this definitive two-song playlist for you.

Remember that uncles are not only losing the war on Christmas and the war on vaccines, but they’re also losing their little nephew, who once bore a passing resemblance to them and liked when they made airplane vroom vroom noises. With each passing year, he respects them less — and the coordinated anti-uncle propaganda campaign from the American media/entertainment apparatus is not helping.

None of us are exempt from aging, irrelevance, and the dizzying distortion of time and space that accompanies family time during the holiday season. And one day you will be the belligerent one at the table, unable to read a room that seemingly changed overnight without you. One day you will be knocking cups over in a crowded, overlit kitchen in a far suburb, remembering how once, not too long ago, you weren’t merely an uncle, but a human being.