Lessons from a ’79 T-Bird

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Thought you might like a glimpse into my past. This is me back in 1989, permed hair and all. That’s the parking lot of my high school.

That car (enter shocked emoticon here) was “mine” for all intents and purposes. It was only 10 years old then, but it seemed absolutely ancient at the time.

Just so you know, a 1979 Ford Thunderbird measures 23 feet long. I know. I measured it once. We called it, “The Boat.” And I received a fair amount of chiding from my peers thanks to that set of wheels. No one would have accused me of being “cool.”

But, I think I learned to roll with it. And I laughed, too. And, looking at this photo brings back a ton of happy memories, of lunchtimes with my pack of girlfriends cramming in the backseat. (The interior was quite small in comparison to the size of the car.)

Uber-frugal, my dad wasn’t about to go buy a hipper, cooler car on my account. I was the oldest of five and precedent needed to be set.

(Don’t even ask what some of my younger siblings got to drive. I’m still bitter.)

Actually, although my teenage pride would have preferred a newer, sweeter car to drive, I think it was probably a good exercise in humility.

(I can’t even believe I’m saying this!)

But, it was good for me.

I think I learned to laugh at my lot. I learned not to think too highly of myself — at least not in the material. I learned to make do. And, most importantly, I knew that any car was better than no car. Good lessons to have learned so that you know how to cope on a budget.

So, yes, twenty years later, I am thankful for this car, not just for the transportation it provided or the good memories I hold, but for the life lessons I learned.

Thanks, Dad.

What about you? Was there something from your childhood that you hated at the time that you are now thankful for? Share it in the comments. I think that as moms, we need the encouragement that the discipline we dole out today will produce good fruit tomorrow.

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  1. My mom had a brown thunderbird just like that!!! I am thankful (now not then) that my parents made me make my own California mission project on my own. Everyone else had dad do most of the work. Who cares that the kid across the street made one that blew real smoke?(OK at the time I was mortifed beyond words) Mine looked like a 4th grader made it. And not a super artistic one either. But you know what? I got an A+. Lesson learned you are rewarded for hard work especially when its your best. And that I am thankful for. 🙂

  2. My family has a ranch, and growing up every weekend and pretty much all summer was spent working the place. While my friends were swimming at the town dock and driving an hour into the city to hang at the mall, I was stuck herding cattle, branding calves, cutting, baling and stacking hay, etc.

    I resented it as an adolescent, but now that I’m grown and living in a city 2000 miles away, I really miss it. The two weeks I spend back home each July to help with the haying is my favorite time of the year.

    And when I met my husband, he was impressed that I was not only the only girl he had ever dated who could actually drive a stick shift, but I could pull a trailer and drive a tractor, too. : )

  3. Oh I love this blast from the past! And hey how come your permed 80’s hair actually looks pretty.

  4. I certainly understand the car as a teenager thing. I was able to drive my parents old car for awhile, but needed my own. I bought my own clunker because I didn't have money for anything else and my parents weren't going to buy me a car, my little sis was going to need one a year later too.

    I have a sibling that's 10 yrs younger who was able to drive a car free and clear for 5-6 years…?? something like that. It wasn't a "cool" car, but he didn't pay for it. 🙂

    I will have to say though that it seems it has made a bit of an effect on how we handle our money & I'm grateful to be the frugal one!

    A lesson learned in parenting & value for me.

  5. All you girls were lucky as teenagers! I didn’t have a car and didn’t learn to drive until after I was married. My time as a teen taught me a lot. Today I am retired. A Lincoln towncar sits in my garage. Hard work pays off and I have learned many lessons throughout my life and I owe it all to God for seeing me through!

  6. As a teenager I got to drive one similiar to the one you did, and I loved it!
    Granted it wasn’t the Mustang I longed for, but it got me where I wanted to go:)