Mattie Chitzmats

Mattie Chitzmats

By Glenn A. Hascall

My next door neighbor was a prune.

I don’t mean any disrespect, but she really looked like a four-and-a-half foot prune. I don’t have a picture of her but the two closest descriptions of her I can give is either a prune or ET’s grandmother. I really am not trying to be disrespectful! I remember her in the fondest of terms.

We called her Granny. If she went by any other name I never knew it or have long since forgotten it. She kept mostly to herself and would often be seen with a walking stick in hand carrying her wrinkled body through neighborhood alleys.

Her granddaughter (in her 70’s) spoke a little English and told us that Granny had come from Mexico in her late 70’s after her husband passed away and had stopped celebrating her birthday at 97 (which had been some years before I knew her).

Most people stayed away from Granny. Not only was she very old, but she didn’t speak English and wore a variety of tattered clothes. This grandmother several times over helped raise several generations of younguns’. 

There would come a time when Granny would find herself alone. And when she was, my mother would make a little extra at suppertime and my sister I would take it over to Granny’s house. 

Granny would never come to the door although she might occasionally pull back a curtain and peer through the window at us, her eyes partially hidden by the flowing wrinkles on her face.

So we learned to leave the meal on her doorstep and knock.  Once we were a safe distance away we would see her hand reach outside the door and the plate and its contents would disappear inside.

The next morning we would hear a knock on our front door, by the time we got there Granny was gone, but she left behind a clean plate with a stack of homemade tortillas still warm from the pan.

Soon it became a neighborly ritual; we would supply her supper and she made sure we were never without fresh tortillas. Granny would never let us actually thank her or even talk to her, but she understood what my family was doing and she appreciated it and even without words she let us know of her gratitude.

One Christmas, after we had read Luke, chapter two, opened presents and were enjoying the holiday, I heard the doorbell ring. I didn’t suspect Granny because she always knocked.

When I reached the front door I had to look down and I saw a short, toothless, wrinkled lady grinning from ear to ear. She held out a plate of Christmas Tamales and said, “Mattie Chitzmats”.

I was so startled to hear Granny speak that her very broken English words didn’t register right away. By the time I realized that she had personally wished my family a Merry Christmas she was backing away, waving and grinning.

This beautiful, wonderful, toothless prune of a granny had shared Christmas cheer with my family.

As I recall those were the only two words I ever heard Granny say, but her life spoke volumes. And in that moment of Christmas cheer I came to realize the arrival of our Savior Jesus Christ continues to leave a lasting impression on regular people. 

He didn’t come just for those of us who speak English. He didn’t come just for those who attend church in their very best clothing. He didn’t come just for those who had a particular color of skin. He didn’t even come just for those who were wrinkle-free.

He came for me. He came for you. And He came for Granny.

A smooth skinned baby and a wrinkled old woman. This, my friends, is the story of a Christmas past and the best Christmas present.

Mattie Chitzmats to all and to all – Jesus Christ.

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