Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Happy anniversary to Jeff and his Minnesota northwoods bride! April 1, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — Audrey Kletscher Helbling @ 9:13 AM

CONGRATULATIONS TO MY COUSIN, Jeff, and his wife, Janet, who earlier this week celebrated their 20th wedding anniversary.

Jeff and Janet were married March 30, 1990, at the St. Louis County Courthouse in Duluth with Janet’s two young daughters attending.

So, big deal, you say.

But this wedding, or should I say the announcement of this marriage, was, indeed, a very big deal.

Jeff shared the news with his parents, who live hundreds of miles away, via a printed announcement: “And four shall become a family.” He then revealed the basics of his unexpected (at least to his parents) marriage.

My aunt and uncle, who were unaware that their son even had a girlfriend, were shocked. They reacted as Jeff hoped. Marilyn called the Floodwood school where her son was teaching.

I’ll let Jeff tell the story from here: “There I sat, the secretary at her desk to my right, the principal at his desk in his office to my left, both just feet away, overhearing one side of this awkward conversation about my recent wedding.

“Mom, of course, had many questions—about Janet, about Heidi and Amber, about planning a wedding reception. Well, I was able to calm Mom down enough to tell her to look at the back of the card and remember what day it was, or what day had just passed.”

That would be April Fool’s Day. On the back, the new groom had written: “rehcstelk ffej morf gniteerg sloof lirpa na.”

From right to left, Jeff’s message read: “an april fools greeting from jeff kletscher.”

Yes, my creative cousin had just pulled off one of the best family April Fool’s jokes ever.

His mom responded with something like, “You’re terrible.”

Today, this April Fool’s prank remains the stuff of family legends.

In four months, the extended Kletscher family will celebrate this marriage hoax at the annual family reunion. We’ll have cake and homemade wines to toast Jeff and his fictional northwoods bride.

The party is not only a tribute to this legendary marriage, but also an attempt to infuse new energy into our yearly gathering. We are planning wedding-themed games and other surprises that may leave Jeff wishing he (and Janet) had stayed home.


EARLIER THIS WEEK, I e-mailed my cousin wishing him and Janet a “Happy 20th anniversary!” I also inquired about his plans for this special occasion.

He responded that they would be attending Maundy Thursday church services. “We have decided to keep things low key, as we know that the party at the end of July will be exciting,” he explained.

I immediately realized that Jeff had his anniversary date wrong. He was married on March 30, but Thursday, today, is April 1.

So, I e-mailed him back, noting the error and suggesting that he give Janet a dozen roses.

Of course, he offered a logical explanation for his mistake. “You are indeed correct, March 30th, but as time goes on, we have settled on celebrating on the 1st of April,” Jeff wrote. “Just easier for me to remember—you know how men are with keeping dates straight in their minds. I have a tough time remembering dates.”

I’m glad you said that, Jeff, and not me.

© Copyright 2010 Audrey Kletscher Helbling