My family spent every Thanksgiving and Christmas at Pop and Molly’s. Those are magical memories for me — my experience of those times was something straight out of one of my grandfather Norman Rockwell’s paintings. We would take the snowy drive up the Taconic to Stockbridge. Pop’s house, especially around the holidays, was its own universe, a place where I felt totally safe and taken care of. The grandchildren had full run of the house, and we would hide in the closets among the musty coats or stage plays in the main hall, explore the attic, have our Canada Dry Ginger Ale and the exotic macadamia nuts that someone sent my grandfather every year from Hawaii … The adults would have their cocktails in the library. And there would be Pop — in his comfortable red chair by the living room fireplace and the twinkling Christmas tree, the wonderful aroma of his pipe filling the air, a bourbon sour in his hand. The cook would call us into dinner at six as the grandfather clock in the front hallway chimed. And we would be greeted by fresh, warm sticky buns (Pop’s favorite) and a wonderful turkey with all the trimmings or a roast beef with Yorkshire pudding (my favorite!).
I have heard people speak of the unrealistic, unattainable, idealistic picture of life in my grandfather’s paintings — “It’s not always as perfect as a Norman Rockwell painting …” Pop’s work isn’t about manifesting some sort of unachievable perfection. His work is about believing in the goodness of people. It’s about looking for that goodness in ourselves and others in the moments we spend with one another.
Instead of being haunted by the idea of perfection, why don’t we instead allow ourselves to be inspired by it — reveling in the possibility of it? It is that possibility that helps to propel us to evolve and grow — and to deepen and expand our vision of what can be.
It’s important to remember that even Norman Rockwell did not have a Norman Rockwell life — he had much the same troubles that we all do as we journey through this life. But he always, no matter what, affirmed life and upheld his vision of how he wanted it to be. And that’s a good template for us all.
Many blessings for a special holiday for each and every one of you and your families — even if your family is you and your dog, or you and a friend! It is the love that makes a family.