My generation of the ‘Baby Boomers’ grew up with this image in our minds when we thought of an American Thanksgiving. Like other traditional images…this painting, too, makes us feel nostalgic, but truthfully was never experienced.
Our Thanksgivings were big with aunts and uncles and grandparents and cousins…however, we were always spread out all over…just not at one table. And that was the case again last night…(Creativity helps at my house… finding a table and chair or cushion to sit/eat on.) Even though we can spread out on both sides…everyone likes to be together and feel like they are missing out if they are on one side and others next door. More fun to just bunch in…
Between February and March 1943 four consecutive essays were written about the Four Freedoms: Freedom from Fear, Freedom of Worship, Freedom of Speech, and Freedom from Want (Thanksgiving painting) -each essay was accompanied by a Norman Rockwell painting.
We all know Rockwell’s Freedom from Want by heart, even if we don’t know its title. Three generations circle the food—a nuclear family more rarely seen today, but still existing in some hearts and minds as an ideal. From the lower right corner, in the finest Renaissance tradition of painting, a young man looks out at you directly—the classic challenge to the viewer posed by the painter and his painting. His smile asks you to join in with the wonder at the bounty set before them, but is that all it asks?
After more than a decade of overseas wars draining of us blood and treasure and an economic downturn further depleting our reserves of good will and thankfulness, that young man’s smile reminds us that the Thanksgiving thanks are not necessarily for abundant protein and four kinds of vegetables. Instead, the thankfulness is for having each other and the enduring capacity of people to free one another from all kinds of want—physical, emotional, and even spiritual.
So until tomorrow…Let us remember that freedom means many things to many people…but we all know when we no longer have it…and that it is worth fighting for. Happy Thanksgiving!
“Today is my favorite day” Winnie the Pooh
*Flowers still blooming at Thanksgiving
Happy Thanksgiving from our families to yours! Rhodes was like a magnet…we were all drawn to him and he patiently let his picture be made with all of us.
Ben with both his grandchildren…it’s been a long time coming…but oh so worth the wait!