Angry Uncle Review: Kill the Booze

Finally, a friend of mine weighs in on the angry uncle:

The outspoken family member or guest is a long tradition that I’ve only witnessed sporadically because we generally all have the same left-leaning — or, if you will, sane — bent. I’ve definitely seen it though. And when you draw one, it’s no fun. There is a thing that happens at family get togethers with members of the opposite politics. It is alcohol. And alcohol has a habit of making it seem like people are not hearing you or getting your point, so you need to repeat it, more loudly and more definitively to make the intended impact. And make people understand the error of their ways. But then that seems to just make people ignore you more and so you give it another try. This repeats several cycles until it’s time to go home.  The louder you are the earlier that time seems to come.

I have conservative friends who are oblivious to the phenomenon as well because their families are just like mine — perfectly normal and reasonable people who share common beliefs — except theirs are grounded in the fundamental conviction that minorities, women and gays are taking something that’s rightfully theirs for reasons they can’t seem to pin down.

Now this is some good advice! It won’t solve everything, but how about trying an alcohol-free Thanksgiving? I once had some folks over for dinner and all we had around the house was a couple of bottles of wine. So that was it. At the end of the dinner, a couple of the guests (who we hadn’t met before) praised the food and then commented that the whole dinner had been unusually enjoyable because there hadn’t been much alcohol. I gathered that they were used to getting fairly sloshed over their meals and found a clear-headed dinner to be sort of a delightful anomaly.

In other words, this is so crazy it might work! You could go the full alcohol-free route, or do what we accidentally did, and simply have very limited alcohol. This provides two big benefits:

  • Angry Uncle Tucker won’t get plastered, which might make him a little more tractable.
  • If this doesn’t work, it’s possible that he’ll be more pissed off about the lack of booze than whatever Hillary has done lately. Given a choice, I think that listening to him grumble about liquor is preferable to grumbling about Hillary.

Now, if you’re a Mormon or Christian Scientist family, this won’t do any good since your dinners are already alcohol free. But for the rest of us, it’s good advice. And if your well-meaning nephew offers to “hop down to the store” since you’ve “run out” of beer and scotch, be sure to have a good story lined up in advance to keep him safely away from this idea. Five uncles.


Mother Jones was founded as a nonprofit in 1976 because we knew corporations and the wealthy wouldn't fund the type of hard-hitting journalism we set out to do.

Today, reader support makes up about two-thirds of our budget, allows us to dig deep on stories that matter, and lets us keep our reporting free for everyone. If you value what you get from Mother Jones, please join us with a tax-deductible donation today so we can keep on doing the type of journalism 2019 demands.

We Recommend


Sign up for our newsletters

Subscribe and we'll send Mother Jones straight to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.


Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.


We have a new comment system! We are now using Coral, from Vox Media, for comments on all new articles. We'd love your feedback.