Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Gathering with the in-laws at the annual family reunion August 13, 2013

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Grandma Cheryl and Grandpa Roger help 6-month-old Aston make a luminary.

Grandma Cheryl and Grandpa Roger help 5-month-old grandson Aston with artwork on a luminary.

I AM BLESSED beyond measure to be a part of extended families who still care enough about the connections of blood lines and histories to reunite each summer.

This past weekend my husband, 19-year-old son and I headed north and west to the annual Helbling family reunion, this year in Morris. Our daughters, one of whom is preoccupied with wedding plans and packing to move while the other lives 10 hours from western Minnesota, could not attend. But I am used to that, having my own three together only once or twice a year.

Cousins and a cousin-in-law going strong in the gunny sack race until...

Cousins and a cousin-in-law going strong in the gunny sack race until…

...the brothers wipe out.

…the brothers wipe out.

Seeing my in-laws and their families, including lots of little ones, always proves a fun time from conversation to laughter and, this year, a few old-fashioned games tossed into the mix. No I did not participate. I am smarter than that.

The weather in Morris proved perfect with sunshine and intermittent clouds and temps more befitting of September than August. But I am not complaining. I love this kind of weather.

It was the perfect weekend, in so many ways.

My great nephew Cameron eyes the bocce balls.

My great nephew Cameron reaches for a Bocce ball rather than the smaller (and safer) child-sized balls.

Husband and wife team, right; my son and his godmother, middle; and niece and nephew-in-law line up for a three-legged race.

Husband (my nephew) and wife team, right; my son and his godmother (my sister-in-law), middle; and my niece and nephew-in-law line up for a three-legged race.

The final, ahem, leg of the race. The son and godmother were lagging way behind.

The final, ahem, leg of the race. The son and godmother were lagging way behind.

My nephew Nate tends to his nephew, Tristan, following a hand injury during a gunny sack race.

My nephew Nate tends to his nephew, Tristan, following a hand injury during a gunny sack race.

We all designed luminaries, including this one by my nephew-in-law Jason with his favorite quote, one that sits on his work desk.

We all designed luminaries, including this one by my nephew-in-law Jason with his favorite quote, one that sits on his work desk.

Jason and Jocelyn's oldest daughter, my great niece Meghan, works on her luminary.

Jason and Jocelyn’s oldest daughter, my great niece Meghan, works on her luminary.

Laughter and conversation around the campfire.

Laughter and conversation around the campfire.

The family luminaries light the path from the campfire and up the driveway to my sister-in-law and brother-in-law's home in Morris.

The family luminaries light the path from the campfire up the driveway to my sister-in-law and brother-in-law’s home in Morris.

© Copyright 2013 Audrey Kletscher Helbling