A Retrospective Look on the Haves and Have Nots From My Childhood

A lesson on gratefulness

Image by Jessica Lewis CreativeJessica Lewis Creative from Pexels

I didn’t go hungry, I always had a roof over my head and clothes on my back, but there are other ways I realized my parents were frugal.

I am forever grateful for what they did provide me, but living in the world we live in now with every child wanting more and more, makes me reflect on what I did have.

I grew up an only child, but I was not spoiled by any means (I say this a lot because there’s a preconceived notion that only children had everything. I was not one of them). My father was an electrician/refrigeration technician by trade and my mother was a teacher.


I can count on one hand how many times I went to the movie theater with my parents. Once. I was 16 when my dad took me to see The Rock with Nicholas Cage and Ed Harris. My dad was Catholic and my mother Protestant (both non-practicing) but all my friends and their parents were Mormon, so they weren’t allowed to see it because it was rated “R.”

We didn’t have to go to the movies because my dad had a satellite installed. You know, the big ass ones that look like a giant dish, not the small ones they make now for Dish Network.

I was counted as a cool kid within my friend circle, especially because I had a lot of the rated “R” movies on videocassette tapes. My house was the place my friends would gather for movie night and my parents were always the proud hosts.

Lesson learned: If anything, I learned patience and knew I would see any of the new blockbuster hits once it was released on videocassette.

House temperature (you know it’s a thing)

I don’t know how you grew up, but kids aren’t ever allowed to mess with the thermostat. Mine included.

Living in Utah and only on below-freezing nights would they allow me to turn on the heat in my bedroom. If I was cold, “Put on extra clothes and pile on the comforters,” my parents would say.

My mother added, “Be glad you don’t live in the Philippines. (She’d say (pill-uh-peens in her Filipina accent) “When it’s hot you can only take so much off.”

I don’t remember what my dad would say, but if I ever thought life was particularly tough he would begin his lecture with, “Dais, when I was your age…”

Lesson learned: Don’t complain if you’re too cold. You can always put more clothes on, but there’s only so far you can go when you’re too hot.


Spam was a staple and so was anything else in a can like hashbrowns (yes, it comes in a can). My dad would put it on toast and call it Shit on a Shingle. He would laugh every time and think he was the funniest guy in the world.

We rarely had any extra snacks or treats and if we did they were food items my dad enjoyed. I’m still not a huge fan of black cherry ice cream, minced meat pie, root beer, cheese puffs, or Pringles (the originals).

Lesson learned: Not all snack foods are created equal. When I was finally given a choice I learned that I loved cookies and cream ice cream, pumpkin pie, Pepsi, Cheetos, and sour cream and onion Pringles.


My mom made every article of clothing even down to my training bras, that is until she discovered thrift shops. In elementary we shopped at Good Will and the Salvation Army. I remember thinking I was so happy to have a Mork and Mindy swimsuit instead of wearing a swimsuit my mother had made. When we started shopping at places like Kmart and JCPenny’s, I couldn’t have been more excited.

Lesson learned: In retrospect, I should have worn her clothes longer, she was like my own personal designer, but I was too interested in looking more like the rest of the kids at school.


We didn’t go on the houseboat to Lake Powell like a lot of the cool kids from school, but every summer and sometimes during the school year, my parents would take me on a family trip.

We took a special road trip from Nevada to New York. My mother received her citizenship and she wanted to see the Statue of Liberty. We climbed the stairs all the way to the crown (when that was a thing). We also went to the Bronx Zoo where I saw my favorite wildlife animal, the panda.

When my dad started working over in San Francisco, money became less of an issue and he would take my mom and me, and most of the time I was allowed to bring one friend. One summer we went to see Monument Valley, The Grand Canyon, the Four Corners, and Zion National Park.

I loved the feel of different cities like NYC, Seattle, Los Angeles, and San Francisco. They carried their own identity and I appreciated the food and history of each of them.

Lesson learned: Even though I wanted to be one of those kids talking about my latest trip to Lake Powell, I realized I wasn’t fond of the water.


What do you miss from your childhood that you wish you didn’t take for granted?


I didn’t have it all, but I had everything I ever needed. I had an upbringing that was different than most and wished I would have thanked them more for allowing me to see the world from a different perspective than many of my friends.

Hope you were able to learn something from this article. Please let me know what you found of interest, I’d love to hear your thoughts. Thanks for reading and I hope you’ll follow me, so you can hear other lessons I’ve learned while living on this planet with all y’all. We are more connected than we realize!

I’m Desiree, I’m living the life I preach. It’s a pleasure to meet you.

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