A February Post About Thanksgiving On Christmas (Rusty Guinn Edition)

Thank the gods for the greats. 

Men and women. Cats and dogs (but mostly dogs). Throw whatever else you want onto the pile. 

But the greats. Thank the gods for the greats in our lives. . Today and every day. 

Rusty Guinn wrote a post titled “Thanksgiving” back in February 2020. It’s about a colleague of his who passed away. It’s about the goodwill and charity of men. It’s the stories we have to tell, because they’re the stories we have to aspire to. As mortals, which I think is both as seasonally accurate and poetic as I can get today, with purpose, on purpose. 

I’ll quote Rusty directly (emphasis added),

Oh sure, you’d think you had him nailed, but then he would tell you a story about his years as a dancer on the Puerto Rican version of Soul Train. Once you had him pegged, you’d learn another tidbit about his time as Miami city manager during the vice years. And as soon as you thought you finally had the measure of him, you’d walk with him into a restaurant you’d been to two dozen times in the last six months without him as a regular, only to have every server, host, valet, sommelier and unoccupied line cook in the place line up to shake HIS hand and exchange pleasantries with him in perfect Spanish.  Then the next week he’d fly to San Francisco for a closing dinner, stand up in the middle of the winery owned by the billionaire who sold him a company, and belt out a raucous Cielito Lindo, utterly indifferent to whether anyone else joined him on the chorus that normal people know.

I think a lot of people who didn’t know John very well often felt that this dynamism – this intentional tailoring of his words and actions to each person and circumstance – had to be some kind of attempt to manipulate them. Or at the very least, a kind of intellectual inconsistency. I was one of them. For a while.

No one event changes this kind of perception. But some stand out. Like when my wife was due with our first child on Thanksgiving Day in 2014, and John stayed up the night before making a second thanksgiving dinner in addition to the absurd feast he prepared for his own family celebration. Sous vide turkey breast, gravy, dressing, salads, casseroles and pies, with hand-written instructions for the best way to reheat and prepare each. He showed up with full bags at our hungry house, unlooked-for and unannounced. I think the only person who knew was his assistant, whom he asked for our address.

We weren’t alone. Ours was one among a hundred similar stories.

We have so many stories to write. Without worrying about the perceptions. Just to focus on how the actions make the others feel. 

Peace on earth, goodwill to men. Happy holidays. Read Rusty’s piece and aspire to be one of the good one’s too. 

Cheers – to hope, the thing with feathers.