Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

In The Land of Plenty as Christmas approaches December 10, 2021

Rag rugs. (Minnesota Prairie Roots copyrighted photo May 2021)

ONCE UPON A TIME in The Land of Plenty, the people busied themselves preparing for Christmas. Merchants stocked their shops with goods. Peasant farmers butchered plump geese. Artisans and craftsmen gathered in the marketplace, peddling rugs woven from rags, vessels shaped from clay, candles made of tallow.

A spirit of festiveness prevailed, from sprawling cities to remote villages to farms upon the plains. Crowds gathered. The mood was jovial.


But in the dark alleyways of cities, in dark corners of village marketplaces, in the darkness of distant farms, a dark figure watched. He smirked, not wanting to reveal his sickly yellow teeth and thus his identity as The Great Invader. He felt such power in his ability to be anywhere and everywhere simultaneously. He’d also recruited his cousins to join his cause of inflicting illness and death upon The Land of Plenty and beyond.

The lurking figure hunkered down, delighting in the scenes unfolding before him. Nothing pleased him more than crowds of people mingling, seemingly oblivious to his presence. He felt particularly emboldened by the prevalence of denial and by the misinformation spewed by The Village Know-It-All. This made his work much easier.


“Refuse the magic potion,” the self-appointed village expert commanded. “It’s dangerous and will only harm you. There’s no need for the potion. The Great Invader poses no threat.” This he belched while ripping down scrolls released by The Ministry of Health to The Office of Truthfulness. Those scrolls listed statistics which, if examined, countered his declarations.

Unbeknownst to both The Village Know-It-All and The Great Invader, a group of truth-seeking villagers snuck into the village square to review the scrolled documents upon posting. What they read startled them. Frightened them. Gave great cause for alarm. Reaffirmed their understanding of The Great Invader’s presence and power.

In the neighboring province of Cebanak, the positivity rate for infection stood at 24%. It was even higher in Acesaw province at 28%. And yet higher in Yelbis province at 30%. Those overwhelmingly high numbers struck fear into the hearts of those who read them. They were not so much frightened for themselves, for they’d taken several doses of the potion protecting them from serious illness and death. Rather, they felt concern for their friends, neighbors and family members who refused the potion. Too many lay in The Village Center for Healing (or on overflow cots outside). Others were already gone, buried in the cold black earth of the graveyard.


They pleaded, especially with those in their close family circles, to take the protective potion. But nothing convinced the doubters. Nothing. Not even the healers who’d arrived from far away places to help care for the sick and dying at the Center for Healing, now filled to capacity.

As Christmas approached, conflict bubbled in The Land of Plenty. There were those who wanted to celebrate as usual. Gather with family. Shoulder into the local pub with holiday revelers for a hot toddy or pint of ale. Cram into the town square to hear performers sing of Christmas joy. Anger boiled, especially in the outlying villages. Most villagers distrusted The Ministry of Health and leaders from far away cities who warned of more illness and death.


It wasn’t all doom and gloom, though. Health officials suggested ways to gather safely. Accept the protective potion. Cover your face with a mask. Test for illness. Stay home if you feel unwell. But that only angered many and caused rifts within families and among friends and neighbors.

And so, weeks out from Christmas, The Great Invader found himself in the enviable position of still retaining his power and control. He never expected this, not with the creation of the potion nearly a year prior. But, oh, how he celebrated, albeit inwardly, as he watched from the dark corners in The Land of Plenty and beyond and plotted his next invasion.


Note: In every story exists truth, this one no exception. As The Great Invader (COVID-19/variants) marches on, please take care. Get vaccinated. Mask up. Avoid indoor crowded spaces. Get tested if symptoms arise. Stay home if you’re sick. And, if you celebrate Christmas together, take precautions. I care about you and want you to be safe and well.

This is part of an ongoing series about The Great Invader. I moderate all comments and will not give voice to anti-vaccine, anti-mask, etc. views on this, my personal blog.

© Copyright 2021 Audrey Kletscher Helbling


9 Responses to “In The Land of Plenty as Christmas approaches”

  1. beth Says:

    this was so clever and incredibly well done –

    • Thank you. I’ve “enjoyed” stretching my writing in this creative way, although I wish I was writing on a different topic. If this series of stories makes a positive difference for even one person in choosing vaccination, I will feel thankful. I’m so saddened by all the deaths in Minnesota, many of which could likely have been prevented.

      Last evening I listened to a report on a metro TV station from a small town hospital in a county (province) with one of the lowest vaccination rates in Minnesota. Only 44 percent are vaccinated. The reporter interviewed the local doctor, who expressed his frustration with low vaccination. The reporter also interviewed an elderly woman hospitalized with COVID. In the room next to her, her husband was also hospitalized with the virus. Both were unvaccinated. I thought she would say she wished they’d been vaccinated. But she never did. This is too often the reality in rural Minnesota.

  2. Numbers are rising again. We continue to use caution.

    • Thank you for continuing to use caution. The COVID situation remains awful in Minnesota. Hospitals are full, cases out-of-control. Good luck finding an ICU bed if you need one. This affects every single person here who may need medical care. Average stay of a hospital patient is 3-6 days. Average stay of someone with COVID is 3-6 weeks, the reason hospitals are full. I heard this info from a media source.

  3. Jane Larson Says:

    Bravo on your continued work speaking truth about covid-19 and vaccinations. If only everyone would listen. (sigh)

    • I’m trying. Yes, if only everyone would listen and get vaccinated. I am so weary and frustrated and, yes, angry that we are still in the throes of this pandemic, mostly because people are still refusing vaccination. I feel for our medical professionals. They are overwhelmed. I don’t understand why the unvaccinated fail to see that their choice is affecting all of us negatively. What is it going to take?

      • Jane Says:

        That’s just the thing. They don’t realize how incredibly selfish they are in putting the lives especially of us older people at risk. I, too, am angry about it. This is not how I envisioned my retirement.

      • Jane, you make a strong point that I’d not previously considered: “This is not how I envisioned my retirement.”

        That’s so true. I wish younger than us unvaccinated individuals, especially, would pause to consider how they are negatively affecting our health and lives. It’s almost as if we seniors are not valued and respected.

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