People have always loved my grandfather’s painting, Freedom from Want, which first appeared in The Saturday Evening Post — it’s been celebrated and even lampooned many times. It is a painting about connection and the celebration of that connection.
No one is looking at the turkey or the grandmother and grandfather, and no one is praying or giving thanks — it’s what I call the “happy error” of the painting. Norman Rockwell was all about faces and interactions; if he painted everyone looking down and praying or looking back toward the grandparents and the turkey, you wouldn’t be able to see any of their faces.
Everyone is connecting with someone — the woman on the left is my grandmother Mary, who is conversing with the attractive woman across the table. The old woman is my great-grandmother, Pop’s mother, and she’s looking at Mary. The two men are interacting in the middle of the table (you just can’t see the one man’s face). The grandparents have a lovely, quiet, unspoken connection — the grandfather is clearly there to support her if the turkey gets too heavy. The man looking out at us is there to bring us into the moment, to invite us in.
The act of setting the turkey on the table brings movement into the painting. You can almost hear the lively exchanges at the table. And who is at the other end of the table? I can almost feel Pop’s presence there.
Enjoy your time with your family. In the end, that is what holidays are about. It’s not about getting the turkey with all its trimmings just right, its not about creating the perfect tablescape. It’s about family coming together to celebrate the simplest things — love and gratitude.
P.S. Pop always felt he had made the turkey too big. He also used to joke that the turkey was the only model he ever ate!