Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

At Trinity Family Game Night: Thou shalt laugh January 13, 2013

“TRICK OR TREAT,” I blurted upon my turn, realizing in the very moment I shouted those words that I had erred big time, as in a major brain fart moment.

My teammates’ mouths dropped. Their laughter chastised, mocked me. I could hear their question—“What were you thinking, Audrey?”—even though they dared not speak it aloud in the church fellowship hall setting. They exercised that bit of restrained Christian charity.

But I deserved the laughter. Who would respond “trick or treat” to a Family Feud question about a popular holiday greeting? Me.

First, the specific Family Feud game version we were playing focused on Christmas, a theme I failed to remember. Second, Halloween may be a holiday for kids, but not officially.

Thus went the annual Trinity Lutheran Church, Faribault, Family Game Night Christmas Party on Saturday, an event that always brings laughter. Lyda, who attended with her husband, Sean, and daughters, Rosemary and Anne, summarized the get together quite well in an email thank you to party planner Billie Jo. “We haven’t laughed this much in a long time,” Lyda wrote. Me either.

Laughter is good for the soul, even if the laughter is sometimes because of you.

Mandy, left, and Billie Jo vie to open a gift wrapped in multiple layers of boxes and wrapping paper and secured with layers of duct and packaging tape.

Mandy, left, and Billie Jo vie to open a gift wrapped in multiple layers of boxes and wrapping paper and secured with layers of duct and packaging tape. Rules called for contestants to dress in scarves, hats and mittens before attempting to open the gift.

From the exchange of white elephant gifts (more on that shortly) to the drawing of a Christmas scene upon a paper plate placed atop our heads, to tearing snowmen from paper tucked behind our backs to the pushing/near-wrestling/grabbing involved in the competitive unwrapping of a single gift secured in layers of paper and rolls of duct and packaging tapes to parceling M & Ms into bowls, the evening’s activities showcased comedic competitiveness.

Racing to sort M & Ms by color is not as easy as it looks.

Racing to sort M & Ms by color is not as easy as it looks.

Honestly, you would not expect grown-ups to behave like this, especially in church. But, and this is just my thought, I think sometimes we all need to act like kids, to let loose and freewheel our way through life, if but for a few moments.

We competed for prize packages like this snowman poop.

We competed for prize packages like this snowman poop.

Now if you’re thinking my Family Feud Halloween stupidity rates as the evening’s most memorable moment, you would be wrong. It ties with Jeff’s unwrapping of a white elephant gift which has become a Family Game Night Christmas Party tradition. For years, a gaudy holiday photo frame has circulated into the gift exchange. And, at some point, photos were added. Unbeknownst to Jeff, he grabbed the wrapped photo frame.

I knew, just knew, that my friend Jesse (who is a doctor, but not a medical doctor—so says his son Noah) would wrack his brilliant librarian brain until he came up with an incredibly creative photo to insert into the frame. Little did I know that my husband and I would be the subjects of Jesse’s creative efforts.

Jesse totally outdid himself. We party-goers erupted into thunderous laughter upon seeing his version of artist Grant Wood’s American Gothic.

The modern day version of Grant Wood's American Gothic painting was created by artist Jesse and features my husband and me. Outstanding, isn't it?

This modern day version of Grant Wood’s American Gothic painting was created by artist Jesse and features my husband and me. Outstanding, isn’t it? The garish frame will be regifted next year with a new photo inserted.

The only disappointment was that Jesse could not witness our reaction; he was home with his two youngest children who were ill. However, I asked Jesse’s wife, Tammy, to tell him I would be seeking revenge, to which there was some response about revenge belonging to the Lord. OK then, get back at/get even.

And I can get even, because that hideous photo frame is now in my possession. Yes, I actually stole the frame from Jeff at one point during the game because I really did not need a silverware tray from a dishwasher or two can coolers. My husband later stole this from Jeff—apparently for the can coolers.

I expect we broke many of the 10 Commandments Saturday evening what with stealing, infliction of bodily harm, mocking, maybe even coveting of some gifts, over-indulgence (ahem, consumption of too much chocolate)…

But we redeemed ourselves with laughter and with love.

Another of the wonderful prizes awarded to game winners.

Another of the coveted prizes awarded to game winners.

© Copyright 2013 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

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