Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Heidi, Laura and the Whos gather for Christmas fun December 16, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — Audrey Kletscher Helbling @ 11:23 AM

Two men, dressed as Laura Ingalls Wilder and Heidi (from Johanna Spyri's book) and who shall remain anonymous, vie to unwrap a gift.

Disguised in a bonnet, this bearded contestant struggles to open the gift.

THEY COULD HAVE been characters in a theatrical performance—sweet Heidi from the Swiss Alps, determined Laura from the prairie or a crazy-looking little Who from Whoville.

But instead, they were fierce competitors in the December Family Game Night at Trinity Lutheran Church in Faribault.

My friend Billie Jo coordinated the event which included contestants vying to unwrap a gift. If that sounds easy, then you would be wrong. Billie Jo wrapped the coveted present in layers and layers of packaging and wrapping paper with yards of heavy-duty tape.

The first challenge—to roll doubles with dice. Just a footnote here: Don’t ever take me to Vegas. I never rolled doubles. However, I should clarify that I missed many opportunities because I was busy photographing the craziness.

Once Lady Luck struck, contestants had to don a cap, scarf and mittens (in some cases, oven mitts), then attempt to unwrap the gift before the next competitor rolled doubles and stole the present.

Before we got started, I raised my hand (because Billie Jo is a teacher) and asked if we could use our teeth to open the gift as one unnamed competitor did last year. Fine with her, she said.

So the race began.

Soon we were all laughing and shouting encouragement and laughing some more. There’s something about a bearded man in a gingham bonnet that’s just downright amusing. Maybe you had to be there. There’s also something incredibly hilarious about a friend suddenly transformed into a Dr. Seuss-like character by a neon orange hat.

Eventually, the second youngest of the game players successfully unwrapped a gift card to a major national retailer.

And then we moved onto more games—tossing greeting cards into clothes baskets, passing candy canes and paper gingerbread boys to each other, none as easy as they sound.

Oh, and we also exchanged white elephant gifts that included unwanted cologne, a high school graduation picture and a gaudy holiday-themed photo frame. My 15-year-old son was thrilled to get the frame, which will be regifted for the 2010 Christmas party. This year marked the second time the frame has been gifted, so it’s now part of our tradition.

Laughter defined our Christmas party. And it felt good, very good, to break from the hustle and bustle of the holidays for such silliness among friends.

A charming Who from Whoville finally succeeds in opening the gift.

© Copyright 2009 Audrey Kletscher Helbling