Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Blessings in a box from North Dakota November 24, 2015

Filed under: Uncategorized — Audrey Kletscher Helbling @ 5:00 AM
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WHEN THE MAIL CARRIER arrived at my door on Friday bearing a package, I was surprised. “I didn’t order anything. Who’s it from?” I asked.

“Looks like it’s from a relative,” he said.

And then I remembered my sister-in-law’s quick phone call several days earlier requesting my address. She was running errands and had no time to chat. This box with her return address solved the mystery of that call.

Inside, I found several sweet surprises—a pillow, a book and a clutch of notecards.

My niece worked all last winter stitching these yo-yos for this pillow.

My niece worked all last winter stitching these yo-yos for this pillow.

My 10-year-old niece crafted a yo-yo pillow for me. Fifty-six yo-yos, tiny circles of fabric gathered at the edges and sewn into circles stitched to a pink flannel pillow. Yo-yos were, Beth wrote in an attached note, popular during the Depression. Women made them from scrap fabric (oftentimes from old clothing) and then stitched them into quilts.

The story and history behind the yo-yo pillow.

The story and history behind the yo-yo pillow.

As much as I appreciate the pillow, I treasure even more the words Beth typed when she entered the pillow in her county fair and then the North Dakota State Fair. She earned two blue ribbons for this 4-H project. Here’s the part that especially touched me:

I made it for my Aunt Audrey’s birthday. She loves funky stuff and vintage, so I think she’ll like this pillow.

Beth’s wrong. I don’t just like this pillow; I love it.

And I like that my dear niece and her mom, Rena, know me so well. I do, indeed, value funky and vintage.

"When I discovered this historical gem from under junk and odds and ends (in a rummage store), I knew it was meant for you. Enjoy!" my sister-in-law wrote.

“When I discovered this historical gem from under junk and odds and ends (in a rummage store), I knew it was meant for you. Enjoy!” my sister-in-law wrote. This chapter explains how Land O’Lakes came to be the name of the Minnesota Cooperative Creameries Association’s butter. The Co-op launched a contest in 1924 to name its sweet cream butter, offering $500 in gold as prizes. Mrs. E.B. Foss of Hopkins and George I. Swift of Minneapolis submitted the same winning name. Contest entries of about 7,000 daily overwhelmed the company office. The contest topped news in the Midwest, second only to the Teapot Dome oil scandal, according to the author.

That leads to the second gift, the book Men to Remember: How 100,000 Neighbors Made History by Kenneth D. Ruble. Land O’ Lakes Creameries, Inc. commissioned the volume published in 1947. Perfect for someone who grew up on a dairy farm.

The "Spatial Odysseys" collection of notecards by David Paukert.

The “Spatial Odysseys” collection of notecards by David Paukert.

The last item in the package—a collection of rural-themed notecards—is a fitting gift also. The cards feature the work of Michigan, North Dakota, photographer David Paukert. Titled “Spatial Odysseys,” the photo cards showcase fields, a church, a barn and more from Paukert’s “Visions of the Prairie” Collection. Prairie. That reflects me, rooted in the prairie.

These gifts from Rena and Beth arrived at the end of a difficult week. They didn’t know this, of course, because the presents were originally intended for my birthday two months ago. But the timing of the delivery couldn’t have been better. Rena and Beth blessed me not only with the items they made and chose for me, but also with their thoughtfulness, love and care.

My sister-in-law also included a quote from Mother Teresa: “…do small things with great love.”

This week, please consider ways you can bless someone. Call a friend or family member who needs your support and encouragement. Listen. Avoid “hearing without listening.” Send a card with a heartfelt handwritten note. Or a gift. Volunteer. Be kind. Show your love. In whatever way you can.

Check back tomorrow for another “blessings” post.

© Copyright 2015 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

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22 Responses to “Blessings in a box from North Dakota”

  1. hotlyspiced Says:

    The pillow is gorgeous; I love the colours. I do love it when there’s a knock on the door of the delivery of an unexpected package – so exciting. Happy Thanksgiving to you and all your family, Audrey xx

  2. Janelle Parry Says:

    Dear Audrey,
    I hope your difficult week dissolves and the little blessings add up to joy. You always give us so much to enjoy and prepose questions for interesting discussions. You are yourself a little blessing for the rest of us that enjoy your blog so much. Have a wonderful Thanksgiving.

  3. Beautiful 🙂 Such an inspiring post – be blessed my friend!

  4. Dan Traun Says:

    Wonderful and thoughtful gifts. One of the greatest quotes of all time in my opinion. “…do small things with great love.”

  5. Thanks so much for sharing Minnesota with me!! I live in Norway – my heart is in two places: Minnesota and Norway. I love looking at your lively and colorful descriptions in pictures and words of rural Minnesota!!

  6. I love that they surprised you with this! So kind. I began making a yo yo quilt before I was married…it’s now sitting in pieces – some sewn, some not – in my closet. Maybe someday!

  7. Littlesundog Says:

    You and I are much alike, Audrey. When folks “know” who we are, what we enjoy and what makes us tick… well, it’s just special. I love that note on the pillow. Those words are to be cherished for sure.

  8. Great post. I love the pillow with the vintage pattern. I have seen those before at somebody’s house. I just can’t remember who. Wishing you some great weather and a happy Thanksgiving.

  9. Sue Ready Says:

    What a wonderful gift with carefully chosen items. Indeed it is a blessing to be remembered and even more meaningful when it is unexpected.

  10. Thread crazy Says:

    You are so blessed Audrey and what a beautiful pillow that I know you will always cherish. Plus you must be so proud of your niece; she designed and made a project that won 2 ribbons, and then gave it away. Sweet child.Yes, we must all do small things with great love.


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