Are the best things in life free? As expensive as modern living has become, the greatest moments in life involve loved ones, smiles, and laughter, which are priceless. Some people grew up with nothing, and even today appreciate the little moments where they felt privileged — so what did blue-collar children consider a luxury?
1. Going Out To Eat
Today’s Millennials and Gen-Z kids see more restaurants in a week than most kids in the past did in a year. Nowadays, eating out is barely a luxury — unless you are hand-fed gold-leaf-covered steak by a shifty influencer with a carving knife and a salty elbow.
2. Several Pairs Shoes
Some lucky young kids have entire bedrooms dedicated to sneakers; in the past, some people were happy just to own two pairs. Waterproof shoes were the closest thing most Gen Xers had to a second pair. One commenter shares their obsession with hoarding shoes, which they link to a lack of growing up.
3. New Clothes
Any sibling who wasn’t firstborn would invariably never get new clothes growing up. The smug firstborn kids could wear those new pants until the knees gave out, which mom or grandma would repair for the younger siblings. Imagine parents’ (and eldest child’s) horror when their younger offspring outgrew them — imagine the bragging rights a younger child would get.
4. Branded Apparel
A former skateboarder looks back on his lack of appreciation for how much money his parents spent on him, namely on Vans skateboard shoes. In contrast to feeling like a luxury then, he only realizes how significant a pair of Vans cost every two months — the amount of time it took him to heelflip a hole in the left one.
5. A Bedroom Door and a Fridge
Growing up on welfare, a contributor reflects on their childhood with little food in the fridge and not even having a bedroom door. She remembers kissing her new bedroom door when it finally arrived, and to this day, she gets a fuzzy feeling when she closes the door on her full fridge.
The next pleasure many didn’t experience growing up was vacations. One girl remembers her classmate boasting about two weeks in Florida while all she could recall was a weekend away once. When her friend told her a weekend didn’t qualify, she soon became obsessed with going on a proper vacation, which never came.
7. Glasses That Weren’t From Medicaid
Some adults reflect on the feeling they got from wearing Medicaid glasses, becoming jealous of those who got to choose “from the wall.” Another thread observer swears she works hard, scrimps, and saves to ensure her daughters never have that feeling she did wearing robust frames.
8. New Devices or Appliances
Today’s throwaway culture is partly down to such low-priced devices. In the past, if someone’s cassette player broke, they would need to fix it or save up for a new one. Others went to the local rent-to-own stores for emergencies, like a dryer breaking down. Emergency funds for many were not possible in the ’70s and ’80s.
9. Parents at Home
Many young Gen-Xers and older Millennials were the first generation to have a two-parent working household. Consequently, latch-key kids became a thing, waiting for mom and dad to return from school. Others weren’t so lucky — the generations who suffered more divorce than ever before often only had one busy parent for support.
10. Air Conditioning
If you grew up anywhere in America, escaping the oppressive summer heat was almost impossible, and air conditioning was not nearly as common as today. One story reflects on her parents switching the A/C on only when the thermostat reached 80°, and in winter, the threshold for turning the heat on was 65° only. Often, her family couldn’t afford to do either.
11. Personal Computers
Growing up in a 1980s three-sibling household meant my parents didn’t have much loose change, and we inherited our first computer, a Dragon 32, from a church friend. We marveled at Asteroids played on a black-and-white monitor, in which a single, rotating rocket ship had to shoot meteors before they struck. When the Commodore 64 came out, my brothers and I were in awe of our lucky friends who had one.