4 Reasons Why Thanksgiving is the “Middle Child” of American Holidays

Posted: 11/20/2015
Does anyone else feel like Thanksgiving is the most underappreciated of our major holidays? I would contend that it’s the middle child of American holidays; and I would know.

Let me explain.

(1) Who are they really coming to see? As a middle child, when family would come over to supposedly celebrate your birthday or graduation from school, why did it seem like they were more interested in seeing how much the baby had grown? Or in catching up with the older brother who’d been away at college? Hey, what about me? This is supposed to be MY day.

This Thanksgiving, take note of how much dinner conversation is about Christmas – the “favorite” of the family. You’ll hear people strategizing Black Friday sales, soliciting gift lists from the kids and helping lug the Christmas decorations up from the basement. It’s less Miles Standish, and more Kris Kringle.

(2) Hand-me-down decorations. Really? When I was a kid it was a rare occasion when I would get a winter coat or a pair of baseball cleats that I could truly call my own (or so it seemed). The family household budget always seemed to win out over Jim’s need for unique fashion because older brother’s tattered old clothes still had some life in them.

Isn’t it the same at Thanksgiving? This poor holiday, supposedly treasured and adored by all Americans, doesn’t even get its own decorations. Inflatables? Hardly. Lights on the house? Forget about it. No, we just hang on to the rotting pumpkins, dried out corn stalks and cornucopias (who really has these, anyway?) left over from Halloween and repurpose them for Thanksgiving.

(3) Self-esteem issues? Perhaps. Thanksgiving is the sentimental, sensitive, introverted holiday – only to get trampled on in holiday circles by the “favorite uncle” and “rebellious cousin” like St. Patrick’s Day and the Fourth of July. While those guys have green beer and illegal contraband fireworks to draw in a crowd, Thanksgiving is left to fight back with subtler, laid-back traditions like yams, Underdog balloons and the Detroit Lions. The extent of Thanksgiving’s assertiveness is the battle over the turkey’s wishbone (which the older sibling always wins, right?).

Thanksgiving is also overlooked in the entertainment world. Save for a Charlie Brown special or Hallmark movie, even Pandora and Johnny Mathis scratch their heads and say “Sorry, I got nothin’” when you search for Thanksgiving music. It’s like Googling your own name and finding nothing there. Do you even exist?

(4) Do we even know what day it’s on? Everyone remembers the first-born’s birthday. And the baby’s? Forget about it; it’s practically a national holiday. But challenge anyone to rattle off the middle child’s birthday and it’s crickets and eye-contact avoidance.

Same with Thanksgiving. “Sometime in late November,” you’ll be lucky to hear. “When is the Ohio State-Michigan game? I think it’s that same weekend.” Great, thanks for making me feel special.

Every year, Thanksgiving gets shorter and shorter as Christmas infringes more and more – to the point now of cutting into the Thursday dinner hour with shopping deals. As if nearly a full month of a holiday monopoly isn’t enough. Attention hog.

This Thanksgiving when you’re counting your blessings – and your Black Friday coupons – just be thankful you’re not a middle child. And if you are, I hope you can relate.