When I think of Thanksgiving, I always yearn to have the ideal day. I hope the dinner I serve will resemble that inviting portrait by Norman Rockwell that features a happy multi generational family gathered around the table awaiting the carving of a perfect turkey.
You have probably seen it.
The illustration, entitled "Freedom From Want," features a kind-faced, competent hostess in a white apron who is setting the oval turkey platter on the spacious, beautiful table while the happy family waits with anticipation.
Framing the host and hostess is a light filled window with billowing white curtains. Mr. Rockwell painted that famous scene as one of a four part series inspired by President Franklin D. Roosevelt who, in his 1941 State of the Union address, promoted the idea that everyone is entitled to four basic freedoms: freedom of speech, freedom of worship, freedom from fear and freedom from want.
Among the illustrations in that series, Freedom From Want has always been my favorite. It inspires me to keep trying to close the gap between my own celebrations and Mr. Rockwell's faultless family scene.
None of my Thanksgivings have ever reached the perfection of that illustration, which embodies the artist's statement, "I paint life as I would like it to be."
I like art that depicts life as I would like it to be.
I've had plenty of good Thanksgivings, and there are times when the family has been smiling, waiting with anticipation for the meal. But the plates have been paper. Other times when china gleamed on our table, critical elements were missing like a pretty platter with perfectly browned turkey. Another time, the frozen turkey refused to be cooked that day, and we had spaghetti for Thanksgiving, and turkey the day after.
One busy year, with a new baby in the house and company all around, an elegant table setting was marred when the golden retriever puppy was overcome by the aroma and tried to sample the dinner before all the invited guests. There were times of travel when we didn't have a traditional meal at all, but had whatever was available.
For various reasons, we've never reached Mr. Rockwell's perfect version of Thanksgiving, but we have certainly enjoyed some wonderful times and have been free from want.
Sometimes we forget to count our blessings, and seem to focus on what we wish for instead of what we've already been given. Thanksgiving is a good time to pause and reflect on all the positives.