I don’t really celebrate ‘Thanksgiving’ (which falls on the fourth Thursday of November in the US) but it’s definitely a day that reminds me that it is a special occasion for “sharing what we have with those we love”. And, its kinda synonymous with food.
Freedom from Want is a painting by American artist Norman Rockwell. The painting, which is also known as The Thanksgiving Picture, is an oil on canvas work completed in 1943, and is in the Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge, Massachusetts.
Three generations circle the food—a large 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? 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.
Freedom from want is freedom to have an adequate standard of well being. Do you have enough to eat? It’s not that you want a whole turkey and can’t have it.
It’s, “do you have enough food to not starve and give you adequate nutrition?”. Rice, bananas and lentils may be food you dislike but you have access to food. Do you have a place to live? It does not have to be that luxury penthouse that you want. It means, do you have a place to call home? to eat, sleep, stay unexposed to the elements etc. Do you have access to medical care? Do you have clothes and shoes? A person might want 20 pairs of shoes and a $2000 jacket but they don’t need it. They need clothes that cover them and are free of lice, bugs and dirt. Most would say at least 2 “outfits” so you can wear one and wash the other. Do you have access to clean water?
Yes, let’s please give thanks for all we have this Thanksgiving. But please let’s also remember that part of giving thanks involves helping others to have something to be thankful for, too.
Here’s wishing you freedom from want this Thanksgiving and hoping it becomes available to people everywhere, especially to the very young and the very old.