Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Thanksgiving family memories November 26, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — Audrey Kletscher Helbling @ 12:50 PM
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I CAN’T IMAGINE Thanksgiving without family. They make the day memorable and fun and cherished.

This year 14 of us sat down to a turkey dinner at our house. That’s really a small number given if everyone from my side of the family attended, 26 of us would gather around the tables. Seldom, though, are we all together on Thanksgiving or Easter; that usually happens only at Christmas and never in my small, cramped house.

Anyway, Thursday’s get together provided plenty of memorable moments and laughter, some of which I’ll share. Others are best kept within the family. Here, for your entertainment, are some of those publishable moments:

  • My mom arrived with two cans of corn, soda crackers, cheddar cheese and other ingredients for a scalloped corn dish which she insisted I requested for my eldest. I kept insisting that I had not requested the corn and my daughter, who was called upon to help prepare the dish, kept insisting this was not her favorite corn. No matter how loudly my daughter and I protested, we could not convince my mom that we had not asked for the vegetable. Later, when my sister, L, arrived, we learned that she had requested the corn and that our niece, H, loves it.
  • The corn-requesting sister failed to bring the prune-filled fruit stuffing that is our mother’s favorite and which a certain sister-in-law detests. My youngest brother then shared that the first time he had Thanksgiving dinner with his in-laws, he told them he didn’t like fruit stuffing. They looked at him like he was crazy and told him they didn’t have fruit in their dressing.
  • That same brother wore jeans to Thanksgiving dinner. This is significant because, as his wife revealed, he has not worn jeans in some 25 years. They went jean shopping on her recent birthday and my brother bought not one, but two pair, of jeans.  I don’t know whether the fact that my brother is an attorney has anything to do with his two-plus decades of boycotting blue jeans or not. But I do know that he’s missed out on many years of comfort.


At 11:33 a.m. on November 25, 2010, my sister, L, had nothing to say.

  • At exactly 11:33 a.m., my sister, L, stated that she had nothing to say/was speechless. I was in the other room and did not hear why she said this. But, we all made a very big deal of this statement given my sister has never been at a loss for words. She always speaks her mind. A roomful of witnesses duly noted the time and I declared it a monumental moment in family history. (This same sister later threatened to light my vintage Thanksgiving candles.)


The vintage Thanksgiving candles that will never be touched by fire.

  • During an interrogation about any men in her life, my second daughter rolled her eyes. This did not go unnoticed and a brief discussion ensued on this inherited family trait. I roll my eyes, my kids all roll their eyes and my sister and her daughter roll their eyes. My sister-in-law says her kids are not allowed to roll their eyes. Uh, huh.
  • My husband failed to remove the foil cover from the turkey during baking. A pale white turkey is not a pleasant sight.
  • When I started whipping cream for the pumpkin dessert, my sister-in-law called her son to “watch Aunt Audrey make real whipped cream.”
  • My eldest brought a to-die-for cheesecake, which she whipped up by hand because she could not find the beaters for her hand-mixer.
  • Two of my nieces, a nephew and my son washed and dried the dishes. My 16-year-old, who towers at six-foot-one (or is it two), complained about the low sink.


My tall, tall son declares our sink "too low." That's as good a reason as any for purchasing a replacement for my vintage brown sink, don't you think? I would really like to win a kitchen make-over.

  • I made my sister and my middle brother and his significant other tromp outside in the cold and snow to look at siding samples for the front of our house.
  • My sister-in-law commented on the brown shirts my son and eldest were wearing and said brown was the color to wear for Thanksgiving. She was dressed in a button-up red sweater and a shirt she would have to button over if she was in church. She told me I was wearing an Easter shirt. I told her I didn’t care.


I have never pretended to be fashionable. I wore this "Easter shirt" for Thanksgiving because I wanted to be cool (I'm a woman over 50) and comfortable while working in the kitchen.

  • My brother offered $1,500 for a painting I purchased for $7 at a recycled art sale at the Paradise Center for the Arts in Faribault. I quickly accepted the offer for the Jose Maria de Servin painting, which is worth considerably more than $7. He quickly withdrew his offer, saying he was “just kidding.”

My bargain Jose Maria de Servin painting

  • Family members gathered around the dining room table after dinner poring over newspaper ads. None of us, except the momentarily speechless sister (see above), shops on Black Friday. She informed us that she enjoys the thrill of the hunt while regaling us with stories about shoving shoppers and angry shoppers in the parking lot. She successfully convinced all of us to stay home on Black Friday.


My brother and sister-in-law brought a stack of newspaper ads for us to peruse after dinner.

WHAT ARE YOUR THANKSGIVING stories? If you have a publishable story to share, send it my way via a comment to Minnesota Prairie Roots.

© Copyright 2010 Audrey Kletscher Helbling