Suze Orman, right, with her partner Kathy Travis celebrating Thanksgiving in 2011.
Updated: December 22, 2012 6:24AM
As I write this, we are preparing to set the table for Thanksgiving. But this year, for the very first time, my mom will not be sitting at the table with us. As many of you know, I lost my 97-year-old mother, Ann Orman, just a few months ago.
The only items in my possession that were my mom’s are her holiday special (china) dishes. Dishes that she used for all 61 years of my life only for special events like Thanksgiving.
I keep looking at those dishes and it seems as if every memory of my past holidays is coming to life. I can see many meals that were served on those plates. I can recall many of the conversations that were held over them.
Like the first time I returned home to Chicago in 1973 for Thanksgiving, after moving to the Bay Area in California. Around the table my entire family had gathered: my mom, dad, my brothers, Aunt Thelma, Uncle Nate and my cousins — all 10 of us. One of my cousins looked at me and asked, “So, Suze, how come you moved to California?”
And I answered, “Because it is so much easier to be gay there.” Well, with that, the room went dead silent. It never dawned on me that my mom would not have told her sister and my brothers what she had known for quite some time.
All I can remember from that night is my entire family staring down at the food on those dishes ... in silence.
These dishes really hold very little material value but their emotional value at this moment to me is priceless.
So why am I writing this?
Because it is times like this that we all need to stop for just one minute of our fast-paced, multi-tasking, 4G lives to realize that our true wealth isn’t found in our bank statements; it is contained in those special items that all the money in the world could never buy. You and you alone can take this time to really understand that every conversation, hug, kiss or kind word is deposited into a lifelong vault — and that it is opened up with a smile and a tear of joy when those we love are no longer here to do it themselves.
Don’t waste time buying useless gifts that will be forgotten before the next holiday passes. Use your time to create everlasting gestures and memories that will be here long after all of us are gone.
I wish you all a plate full of grace, love and compassion for yourselves and all those you love.
Happy holidays my dear Chicagoans ...
Suze Orman has donated her fee for writing this column to Blue Planet Network, which aims to bring sustainable safe drinking water to people in rural communities around the world; blueplanetnetwork.org.