Notes From Nestipac

By Phyllis Rauch

God Has No Hands but Ours


old-manA while back a few kind foreigners decided to make Christmas happier for the older folks of Nestipac. They had observed the many street and school posadas, children’s parties and piñatas, but suspected that not much was being done for the many seniors who hobbled the streets in their rebozos or huaraches orcatching a last bit of sun in a dark doorway.

It was decided that dispensas (food packages)and warm blankets would be welcomed by the oldsters. The helpers appealed to my housekeeper Mari, since she is very active in the church and also known for helping out with advice or her telephone when others are in need.

Mari prepared a list of 40 names, including two recent widows as well as many seniors. By gathering estimates from the super markets for the dispensas and bargaining with Aurrera for the blankets, the budget was stretched to include 20 dispensas, and 17 blankets, One expat discovered some inexpensive sweaters in the second-hand stores.

Everything was stored at Mari’s house, and she sent out invitations to those on her list. “Come to my house at 4pm on December 22nd.” Of course, given the date, a pleasant surprise was expected, and received. Those who could not attend (some of whom are still working, ironing for others, for example) sent word asking to come the following day.

Mari said it was like the story in the Bible of Elijah and his miraculous jar of oil that never ran dry. Even though it seemed that many more than 40 of Nestipac’s poorest turned up at the door, there was always another blanket, another sweater in the box.

Mari met one of the eldest men at church. Since the night was chilly, she asked him why he wasn’t wearing his warm new sweater.

“Well, Doña Mari, it’s been so many years since my wife and I have received any Christmas presents, we decided to wrap up her dispensa and my sweater and give them to each other as presents tonight.”

Observing the rough, rope huaraches that the man was wearing, Mari asked him if his feet weren’t cold. “Pues, un poquito. Sometimes my feet crack and they bleed a little bit, but it doesn’t matter, ni modo.”

Mari went down to the Christmas fair on the plaza to buy something for her granddaughter. This delightful child, so beloved by many, already had presents waiting under her small tree.

Mari passed up all the toys, and finally spent her hard-earned pesos on three pairs of warm socks and three pairs of stockings for the old couple. She wrapped them and took them to the house. Giving them to a daughter she said, “Hide them someplace where it will be a nice surprise.”

When it was time for the old couple to go to bed, he called out to his wife and daughter. “Come quick! There’s something in our bed. I think it’s a viper.”

The women came running. “There,” he said, pointing, “look at that strange long lump. It has to be a snake.”

The daughter said, “No Papa, it can’t be. There’s never been a snake in the house.”

“It can’t be anything else. I’ll get my machete.”

Before letting the socks and stockings get turned into confetti by her father’s machete, the daughter threw back the covers.

“Papa, look at the gifts the Christ Child left for you. It’s presents, not a snake.”

It’s February now, and the elderly of Nestipac are planning a Valentine’s Day party. They are looking forward to making tamales and atole for their new foreign friends.

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