I went to the store the other day, shopped for something and when I got the receipt and the change, I put it in my bag and went home. Only to find out later that I was given half a $10 bill. Literally! A half! A $10 bill torn in half…I was so mad!
Would you be mad as well? How could they cheat me? Why didn’t I open the bill and see it? Why did I trust the cashier??
But for me it was a bit more—I just got screwed because I LOST money! I grew up in a family where $10 is a lot. Hey, I could buy two coffee drinks for this price, right? I grew up in a family where money does not grow on trees—EVER!
And in a flash, my mind went back to young 9th grader Dorice.
I was born into an amazing family. My dad worked in construction; my mom sometimes worked three jobs to keep the family afloat. Hand me downs was more likely than shopping for new clothes. I even got my own first bike when I was 12 yeas old!
Money does not grow on trees. Not such a good mindset, but that was how it was!
I still feel to this very day that I grew up in a privileged home—by privilege I mean love. My parents loved us, me and my siblings!
Does money grow on your trees?
I was raised with the lessons from the Bible and in the book of Genesis where it says, “With the sweat of your brow you shall eat bread.”
My family worked hard for their money, and so in 9th grade, I decided to clean two houses of two elderly women each week. To make money! Not the coolest thing to do in 9th grade. Instead of hanging out with my friends, I cleaned these two homes.
Have you ever made a sacrifice to get what you want? And was it really a sacrifice? …
You want to know what I did with this money? I bought a pair of blue corduroy Levi’s and a pair of Nike’s tennis shoes. The white ones with the blue Nike logo on the side. Oh, did that make me feel so wealthy. Because as a young 9th grader you want to fit in with the cool kids, those whose parents had money. Those who went on a skiing vacations in Europe. Those who wear Nike and Levi’s. And since my parents were not be able to afford getting me this, I bought it! With my own money!
But corduroys and shoes were only the beginning. When I had a little bit more money I told my dad, “Abba, can you take this Israeli Money (called shekels) and go to the bank and exchange it for American dollars because one day I will live in America and one day I will want to have American money.”
I honestly don’t know and cannot tell you why I thought to do so. I had zero connection to any Americans really and I spoke only a little bit of English (I am a bit better now)). I just knew that this is what I needed to do. Do you have these feelings sometimes? That you need to do something and you don’t have any logical reason why?
And my dad, the wonderful dad that he was, went to the bank and got me this $100 bill.
Now- where would I keep that $100 bill? Again, do not ask me why, but I used to collect beer cans. I didn’t even drink alcohol, and I never drink beer to this day. I don’t like beer, but it was cool thing to have a collection, so I collected beer cans. I found them on the street and I would wash them and set them up in my closet as a pyramid.
And that is how my $100 bill found its home! In one of the beer cans!
One day I returned from school to our apartment on the fifth floor, and I realized that no one was home. My mom and dad were working and my siblings were still in school. I was the first one home. Have you ever experienced the feeling of cold chills going down your spine and a dreaded feeling in your stomach that something bad is happening?
I had this feeling yet I still walked in! The first thing I saw on my right was a living room in total disarray—all the pieces from the sofa were out and torn and then on the left broken dishes from the kitchen were all over the floor.
I couldn’t even breathe. I ran out the door, right down the stairs to another apartment where our neighbors were home. I quickly call my parents who rushed home. Low and behold we were burglarized!
Someone invaded our privacy! I was so scared. And you know what was the first thought that went through my mind? YES! My $100 bill in the beer can. I ran to my room …and when I entered, I saw all my closet on the floor, beer cans everywhere mixed with socks, underwear and shirts. My $100 bill was gone!
I started to cry because for me that was the end of the world. I worked hard. I sacrificed my free time to hang out with my friends just so I would get what I want. My clothes and my money!
“With a sweat of your brow you shall eat bread.” Well, I sweated alright, but now I didn’t have the bread! My money was gone!
I never regretted cleaning the homes of two elderly women because it was a win-win situation for both of us. I cleaned their home and I got paid. They got a really good deal with a 9th grader cleaning their homes.
But now this win-win was a win-lose. I lost. At that moment, I forgot the sense of satisfaction of helping these elderly women. I felt cheated. Like this $10 bill.
I was crying so hard, not realizing at the moment that other things were stolen. My mother’s jewelry, for example.
You see, my dad used to buy my mom a piece of jewelry every anniversary even when they did not have much money. My dad wanted my mom to feel like a queen. And she did. But that day she became the queen without her jewels.
it was very traumatic for my parents. And then Dorice comes into the equation. Ninth grader crying for $100. Why? Because money does not grow on trees. 100 is 100.
My dad went to the police to report the crime and a few hours later returned. He came into my room where I was cleaning up the stuff and handed me a $100 bill saying, “It’s not your fault. You worked hard for this money and you should have it.” My dad went to the bank and got me a brand new $100 bill! That’s the kind of family I grew up in. That’s the kind of love and values I was raised on and for that I am immensely grateful.
I have worked hard over the years to change the money mind set with which I grew up. And today I understand that while we did not have the money tree, we had a different kind of tree—the tree of love and good values. A tree whose roots are watered constantly by hugs, words of affirmation, and acts of kindness. A tree with a strong and solid trunk, that as you work hard to earn your living, you can rest upon the trunk, enjoy the breeze and shade of its leaves, all the while knowing that everything will be all right!
Invitation to Contemplate:
- What are the three most important values you have gained from your parents? Were you able to transfer them to the next generation?
- Do you feel that you have sacrificed things in order to achieve a better outcome for you in the future? Do you call it sacrifice or investment?
- What does wealth mean to you?