Spare a Thought for the Disappearing Middle Child

Jessicah Lahitou
10 min readAug 8, 2023

As Middle Child Appreciation Day arrives on August 12, a middle child case study for you:

It’s Christmas some year in the early 2010s, a bygone era when CD burning was still a thing, but an old enough thing to have crossed the bounds of adolescent/youth culture and become known to the middle-aged demographic.

My mother is hosting a Christmas party for the Bible study ladies, and she needs music. Ambience is crucial for her vision of this gathering, and the vision demands holiday classics playing soft in the background, gifting up their mood of twinkling nostalgia. With frustration climbing towards despair, nowhere can she find her small CD collection. All her Christmas albums have been, ergo, somehow, misplaced.

She and my younger sister are in the middle of a long-running tension that occasionally erupts into heated arguing about specific, tangential disappointments. The day of the party has seen just such an outburst already. But music must be procured, so the younger sister is told: burn me a CD with Christmas songs, and do it quick.

My younger sister does not appreciate the tone of this request, nor does she appreciate that a Bible study Christmas party means she’ll have to invent a reason to leave the house for several hours. Also, in general, she’s no glowing fan of Christmas music.

To assuage this fusion of negative emotions, my younger sister opts for deviance. She opens iTunes and puts a playlist together, clicking and dragging songs from the Library, downloading some new additions for the occasion. The first several songs are predictable picks — your Bing Crosby gems, your Michael Buble faves, your Amy Grant go-tos.

Track No. 8 is different. It’s by rap group The Game, and the opening line goes like this: “Welcome to California…,” punctuated there by a noun of direct address, a derogatory term for a woman that rhymes with ‘hitch.’

Several more rap songs follow, as my sister figures it may take the ladies a minute to realize that odes to sugar plum fairies and one-horse sleighs have given way to sick beats fronting cautionary tales about whole slews of b-word women.

My sister will be glad that she’s been forced out of the house when the inevitable cell…

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Jessicah Lahitou

Writer on Education, Politics, and Pop Culture. I stan all things Marilynne Robinson, and I’m still here for Saul Bellow.