Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

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

Filed under: Uncategorized — Audrey Kletscher Helbling @ 6:00 AM
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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

 

21 Responses to “Gathering with the in-laws at the annual family reunion”

  1. Marilyn Says:

    You have given me a couple of neat ideas for our next reunion: luminaries, personalised artwork.

  2. treadlemusic Says:

    Love the games and the luminaries are wonderful! Those and the bonfire…..perfect end to a perfect day!!!

  3. Beth Ann Says:

    I love the luminary idea….what a great way to end the day to see those all lighting the way. You are indeed blessed to be able to have these reunions with family . Thanks for sharing with us.

    • Audrey Kletscher Helbling Says:

      The luminaries were a great idea and a personal way to light the path from campfire to house.

  4. Love the luminaries – both the look and the family project. What a great idea! Glad you had such a fun time.

    • Audrey Kletscher Helbling Says:

      We only recently began gathering in the summer with my in-laws as the annual gathering was always at Christmas time. But the family is growing too much to accommodate everyone in someone’s house in the winter. Plus, too many times we had to reschedule due to weather.

      I really liked the added activities and the luminaries were certainly a hit.

  5. This type of family gathering should be mandatory once per year – no execeptions – this is the date – make it happen. Our fast-paced digital age we live in has made many of us lazy with in-person interaction. I hear that everyone is so busy. Un-busy yourselves! It should not take a funeral or a wedding to bring everyone together. Family is one of your most important assets you should realize in your life; sooner rather than later. Without family there is little to no connection to your past and a seemingly unguided or trite outlook towards the future. The sense of being that family provides cannot be replaced.

    I have had the privellege over the years being part of a few different families. The memories and traditionals I have experienced will stay with me forever. The perspective these experenses provide are invalualble. I wish I would have paid closer attention to this sooner in my life.

    • Audrey Kletscher Helbling Says:

      Well said, Dan. I think it takes age to realize the importance of family connections, unfortunately.

      Your specific comment about weddings and funerals nails it.

      One other thing I want to mention. If you have an older family member celebrating a milestone birthday, attend the celebration. A year ago my siblings and I, along with our families, hosted an open house 80th birthday celebration for our mom in the small town where we grew up. It was the best thing we ever did for my mom. To see other family and friends and neighbors gather to honor her and share their love was beyond moving. She was deeply touched as were we.

  6. I think it’s universal that the luminaries are wonderful! And, yes, you are lucky indeed to have a family that does regular reunions.

    • Audrey Kletscher Helbling Says:

      Quite true about the luminaries. Yes, three family reunions every summer, two with immediate extended family and one with aunts, uncles and cousins on my side.

  7. Super photos!
    where are you?
    I’m from Minnesota, too. xx

    • Audrey Kletscher Helbling Says:

      Glad you stopped by and enjoyed my family reunion pix.

      Where am I? Well, I have lived in Faribault, an hour south of Minneapolis, for 31 years. But I grew up on a farm on the southwestern Minnesota prairie. Thus my blog name, Minnesota Prairie Roots. You can learn all about me via clicking on the “About” tab in the top right corner of my home page.

  8. hotlyspiced Says:

    I remember last year’s reunion! How quickly another 12 months has flown. It looks like you had an amazing day and I’m so pleased at least one of your children was able to join you at the reunion xx

    • Audrey Kletscher Helbling Says:

      Time does pass quickly. Yes, I was happy to have our son there as he’s been interning with IBM (a technology company) in Rochester (60 miles from here) and leaves in two weeks to start classes at Tufts University in the Boston area.

  9. Jackie Says:

    I love hearing about your family reunions Audrey, looks like this one was a blast! The luminary idea is really cool, I love the last picture…I was wondering as I was reading what was gonna be the end result of those luminaries.

    • Audrey Kletscher Helbling Says:

      Family came from as far as Missouri (a brother-in-law and nephew) and Minot, N.D. (a nephew) to attend. Still many family members missing, but those who can make it are there.


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