A Norman Rockwell moment
It was rather like being inside a Norman Rockwell painting.
The mother, wearing an apron with broad multi-coloured stripes reminiscent of “the old days,” was moving about the farmhouse kitchen with smooth efficiency, turning her attention from one pot to another. Her three young daughters set out the table, stirred pots and, while professing to be “starving” nibbled what seemed to be just a few too many “taste tests” while still finding time to clown and joke. The father, fresh – (well, after he’d taken a shower!) – from a day tending to his cattle in the barn, pitched in, washing pots on the fly.
And their guest sat drinking a cup of tea and drinking in the scene. The kitchen was all warm earth-tones with lots of wood, a variety of pictures and what seemed to be a well-organized chaos of kitchen gadgets and essentials, the kind of kitchen that seems to hold you in an embrace. Sitting beside the guest was the family dog, as well-mannered, affectionate and gentle as one could hope for.
The girls all wore their hair up in the type of buns favoured by gymnasts and figure skaters, and they all had – (I hate to say this) – rosy cheeks. It was like Norman Rockwell on steroids.
When they all sat down for the Thanksgiving dinner, there occurred something else that one could imagine in a Rockwell painting, given his penchant for mischievous humour. The table was laden with turkey, stuffing, potatoes, carrots, beans and bread rolls, two kinds of pie and two flavours of ice cream. Amidst all this abundance, Rockwell would have shown the guest with an expression of embarrassed guilt after knocking his glass of red wine onto the white tablecloth . . . for the second time. However, the second time, some of the wine spilled into the gravy boat. The gravy, needless to say, was delicious!
During the meal, as the various bowls and dishes moved like a conveyor belt clockwise around the table, the diners talked about this and that and everyone was included, and at the end of the evening all would have been hard-pressed to say what they had talked about. One topic, however, was movies. They talked a lot about movies and the girls seemed intrigued by the guest’s recommendations of “old” movies worth watching and why. And to make it all moment-in-time perfect, there wasn’t a cell phone, smart phone, iPod or what-not to be seen at the table.
Outside for an after-dinner stroll, a warm wind was lightly blowing, a bright full moon was climbing and large flocks of noisy geese flew overhead in stream after stream. Not necessarily a scene Rockwell would have painted, but you get the idea.
And after the guest had said his goodbyes, another Rockwell moment happened. As the guest made his way down the path, the whole family stood in the door and waved goodbye.
Driving home, the guest reflected on the last few hours and realized that during that time he had not once thought about the rest of the world. For a brief few hours, he had been transported into a place where there was no talk of war, suffering, conflict or injustice. It had been a place where love, friendship and gentle humour reigned, where nothing of import was said and yet what was unspoken was most important of all. A place that one would believe could only exist in a Norman Rockwell painting. And yet, for a few happy hours, he had been in that place.
Of course, I was the guest and I realize I need more of those Normal Rockwell moments in my life. In fact, it seems to me we all could use some Rockwell moments from time to time, if only to drag us away from the harsh realities of life for a little while. It’s great mental therapy.
Tell me, am I wrong?