Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

A message for Santa & all of us December 22, 2015

Filed under: Uncategorized — Audrey Kletscher Helbling @ 5:00 AM
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Dear Santa message in New Ulm, 95


WHEN I SPOTTED THIS MESSAGE to Santa while traveling through New Ulm on Saturday en route to a family Christmas gathering, I laughed. What a humorous way to draw attention to a real estate company, I thought.

But then I thought some more about that message after reading a magazine article titled “5 times when you should hold your tongue.” The writer of the piece in Real Simple advised that diplomacy, tact and a lot of silence can go a long way. In other words, think before you speak or write. Β That’s great advice.

You may think it’s your sister’s fault when, in reality, it isn’t. Perception is not always truth.

I’m a big proponent of listening. I truly believe if we all chose to listen, rather than jump to conclusions, many disagreements would never happen. But in the heat of the moment, when we feel we’ve been wronged, we fail to hear anyone’s voice but our own. That is the precise time when we need to clamp our lips, lift fingertips from keyboards and cell phones and consider that, yes, there’s another side to this story. Once hurtful words are written or spoken, they cannot be taken back.

The holidays are a great time to reconnect with family. But such gatherings can also prove stressful. Travel, too much alcohol, lack of sleep, changes in routine, strong personalities, perceived grievances and more can fuel disagreements. It’s all too easy to lash out with angry words. Don’t. Just don’t.

I tend to fade into the background at family gatherings. I’m quiet and reserved. I listen more than I speak. I prefer to talk one-on-one with family members rather than wedge my voice into a conversation dominated by strong personalities in a roomful of people.

It’s important to remember that only in silence can you listen.

Would Santa rather read “It was my sister’s fault!” or “I’m sorry I was mean to my sister?”


Copyright 2015 Audrey Kletscher Helbling


24 Responses to “A message for Santa & all of us”

  1. Beth Ann Says:

    Interesting question. Hmmm. Food for thought. I am fortunate that in our family gatherings we usually seem to be able to have no drama. This year with only Aaron here it will be NO drama. Except maybe from grand kitty Diego. πŸ™‚

  2. Dan Traun Says:

    More sound words of advise. I think you are 1000% correct on the notion of listening more and jumping to conclusions less, most disagreements would never happen. Mastering this technique has been challenging for me at times.

  3. martamcd Says:

    I wonder if Santa had a sister.

  4. I hope Santa looks for the good in all of us and that forgiveness is golden and love is the key to everything in living a great life πŸ™‚ I am like you in that I am more reserved and observant in social settings. I am all for the past is the past and keep on keeping on and moving forward. There is a time where you just have to leave it behind, release and just LET IT GO already! Here’s to the Merriest Holiday and a Very Happy New Year – Here’s to Love, Caring, Kindness, and Compassion – Here’s to Discovering the Magic and Finding the Spirit this Holiday Season πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚

  5. Almost Iowa Says:

    But it was her fault!! Why doesn’t anyone believe me!! πŸ™‚

    Excellent advice, Audrey, being that we are going into an election year that promising to be decisive – let’s all try to treat each other with extra kindness.

  6. I’m intrigued by how a bit of humor led you down a completely different path. And, yes, it’s absolutely right that being quiet is a wise thing to do, apologies are kinder than blames, and letting the strong personalities duke it out is a good holiday/family gathering strategy. They won’t notice you when you take the last cookie!

    • You are perceptive, Kathleen. But I would expect nothing less. That magazine article got me thinking about a lot of things. And then, when I was scrolling through my photos from this past weekend, I connected it to the message in New Ulm. I decided I could shape my own message from that roadside sign. The truth is that family gatherings aren’t always postcard perfect. I would hope most families don’t “duke it out.” But every family has people who are outspoken and who choose to talk more than they listen. That’s my general response to your inquiry.

  7. I have never heard from ANYONE who had postcard perfect gatherings when the whole family and all the hangers on get together.. My American family is just John and I this year so i do expect a peaceful christmas.. and OH how I wish more people would simply listen. I had a friend tell me once that he always knows that i love to listen because I cock my head to the side and lean forward when he speaks. I thought that was a lovely observation. The thing is I lost a little of my hearing in an accident years ago so I really do have to listen carefully when the room is full of chatter. This often leads to people remarking that i am very quiet. I am sure you are a good listener.. c

    • You are right, of course. I cannot imagine too many families with postcard perfect gatherings.

      What a lovely friend to make that observation about you. Based on your writing and photography, I know how observant you are and I would expect that to carry through in your connections with family and others. I have always been a listener. And, like you, I suffer from a hearing loss (lost nearly all of the hearing in my right ear during an episode of unexplained sudden sensory hearing loss). So hearing in a room full of chattering people is difficult for me also. Listening seems such a lost art…

  8. Littlesundog Says:

    This is a great piece, Audrey. I think of the years I did damage by opening my mouth. I realized in time that considering someone else’s truth or perception was important in knowing that person better, and sometimes disagreeing needs not be voiced. I know all too well the hurt that comes from “a moment on the lips, forever on the heart”. It changes everything and it’s a wound that leaves scars.

    I’m like you. I tend to listen a lot and enjoy one on one conversations!

    • I think as we age, we become more aware of the need to sometimes keep thoughts to ourselves and to listen.

      That quote of “a moment on the lips, forever on the heart” is not one I’ve heard. But it is powerful. Thank you for sharing that.

  9. Don Says:

    I agree with all that has been said!

    In a nutshell:
    Listening is the art of communications.

  10. hotlyspiced Says:

    Great wisdom, Audrey. We have a lot of strong personalities in this house and no one shrinking into the corner and just observing. It’s loud, loud, loud. But as much as we’re loud, we do try to remember the saying, ‘God gave you two ears and one mouth and use them in that proportion’. Merry Christmas to you, Audrey and all your family xx

  11. But Audrey, isn’t it true that some anatomies (okay, perhaps mine) provide for some, two small ears, but one, very big, mouth? lol Merry Christmas!

  12. Sue Ready Says:

    Interesting analogy turning a observation of a real Santa sign along the route into thinking more about how we should listen more and our observations than become more keen rather than trying to be the loudest voice in the room and the most noticed .

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