O. k., Norman Rockwell did sometimes push the cuteness factor a bit too
hard, especially in his advertising work. (The image above is
from a magazine ad — the family is excited because dad is bringing
home a new Plymouth for Christmas.) The expression on the face of
the boy on the right is just a bit too orgasmic for the occasion.
The expression on the face of the dog makes up for this to a degree — I get
a feeling he's looking forward to urinating on the Plymouth's new
tires. The self-absorption of the birds also makes for a nice
counterpoint to the ecstasy induced by conspicuous material consumption.
Yet for all that the image moves me. It sums up exactly how I felt in the Christmases of my youth, which is pretty much exactly
how I still feel at Christmas — surprising considering how many
such seasons I have under my belt. Sometimes art isn't meant to
make us rethink how we feel about things — sometimes it's meant to
remind us how we feel about things.
Remove the Plymouth from the equation — imagine it's just dad, a
salesman perhaps, back from a long road trip in time for the
holidays. That works, too.