Without going off the deep end this Thanksgiving Day, I gotta tell you that this famous Norman Rockwell painting -- like the holiday itself -- leaves me feeling conflicted.
On the one hand, it brings back fond memories of when my family -- grandmothers, aunts, uncles and sudry nieces and nephews -- lived closed by and we would have big feasts like this one. In fact, the woman putting the turkey on the table looks a lot like Nana, my father's mother. (That's Rockwell himself in the lower left-hand corner.)
On the other hand, there is a bitter irony in the painting. Its title is "Freedom From Want." It is from Rockwell's famous Four Freedoms series, which also includes "Freedom of Speech," "Freedom of Every Person to Worship in His Own Way," and "Freedom From Fear."
Hallowed concepts all, but a little tattered. This is because America and the world seems to be more screwed up than at any time I can remember, with too many of the supposed good guys in the fight between Good and Evil doing a pretty good imitation of flirting with the Dark Side.
When I was looking for an image to post today, I found several lovely ones with Pilgrim-Indian themes, but realized how hypocritical it would be to use any of them. The Pilgrims came to the New World to escape religious prosecution, made nice for about five minutes and then began the slaughter of Native Americans that continues today in more subtle ways.
Far be it from me to tell American visitors to Kiko's House how they should celebrate their holiday. Feel no guilt when you join millions of other people to shop at the mall or watch hours and hours of football. I try to keep it simple and see the holiday as a version of the harvest rituals practiced for millennia.
Just do me a favor: If someone tells you how proud they are to be an American this Thanksgiving, don't bother to get tangled up in some long winded discussion about what The Decider has wrought. Just ask to have the cranberry sauce passed to you and throw it at them.-- Love and Peace, SHAUN