Dear Michael and Caroline,
My grandmother was going to buy me a car. Never did (nor, by the way, had I ever asked her to).
My parents were going to help buy us a house. Never did (once again, it was offered rather than requested, much less expected).
My father was going to give us his inheritance from his mother. Never did.
So even though money – the having of it, the anticipation of it, the use of it – gave me pleasure, it also gave me (and Mom) some pain. We went through more than a few difficulties with my family over money.
So. Let us now ask a big question. Why this fixation with money?
Well, let me acknowledge this. Nobody in our family started off rich. My grandfather Benjamin came over from a small town in Russia at the age of two with nothing, went to college and managed to succeed as an accountant with his own firm. My great-grandfather Isidore was a tailor, and his daughter, Gertrude, grew up on Madison Street on the Lower East Side, sleeping in the same bed with her three younger brothers.
So yes, money was important to my family because originally nobody had much of it and money meant sheer survival.
What’s my point here? What am I trying to teach you? Is it that I’m bitter about these experiences?
No (though I’ll admit to being disappointed in my family). Rather, it’s that we have to watch out how we treat each other, how we see each other and ultimately how we judge each other. All I ever want for you is to be happy, no matter what form it takes or how much money it brings you.