Freedom from Want

Freedom from want

Anyone above a certain age is familiar with Norman Rockwell. He was a beloved American author, painter and illustrator who had a knack for portraying a slice of everyday life in a single work. He is most famous for the cover illustrations for The Saturday Evening Post magazine and his sense of humor made people smile and reminisce. This painting is entitled “Freedom from Want.” All the people in this Thanksgiving picture were friends and family of Rockwell who were photographed individually and painted into the scene. It has become an iconic representation of the Thanksgiving holiday and family holiday gatherings in general.

This painting is the third of a series of oil paintings called the Four Freedoms. The others were “Freedom of Speech,” “Freedom of Worship,” and “Freedom from Fear.” They were inspired by President Roosevelt’s 1941 State of the Union Address where he outlined the freedoms worth fighting for. The paintings proved to be enormously popular and toured the United States, raising more than $130 million for the war effort through the sale of war bonds.

You may be reading this on Thanksgiving, the day it was posted. Sometimes our family get-togethers aren’t as idyllic as Rockwell created. I remember when I was going through my divorce and then the seven years I spent as a single mom. I was sure everyone else’s family and marriage were perfect, like this painting, and I felt ashamed that mine wasn’t. Of course, I have learned that is not true. Everyone has their challenges and even the most idyllic-looking family has struggles.

If you ever feel like you’re the only one whose life isn’t as it “should be,” please know that you are not alone. No one is perfect. No family is perfect. This iconic image we look to on this most iconic of American family gatherings makes a beautiful painting—but it isn’t reality. 

Being Human connection: Don’t compare yourself to a standard that isn’t real. And remember, it’s hard to be grumpy and grateful at the same time. God suggests that grateful is the better way to live.

“Praise the Lord! Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for he is good and his steadfast love endures forever!” -Psalm 106:7

Featured painting: Norman Rockwell, “Freedom from Want.” Published on the cover of The Saturday Evening Post, March 6, 1943