Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Christmas homecoming December 23, 2021

Nearing Terminal 1 at MSP on a quiet December day in 2015, a very different scene from Tuesday evening. (Minnesota Prairie Roots copyrighted file photo December 2015)

NEARLY AN HOUR after picking him up outside Terminal 1 at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport Tuesday evening, my son and I embraced.

I wanted to wrap him in my arms immediately. But vehicles jammed the pick-up area. The hug would have to wait 45 minutes until we arrived home in Faribault. I recognized that if everyone stopped to hold their loved ones close, the traffic delays would only worsen. So he shoved his suitcase inside the van and climbed into the front passenger seat while I skirted the bag and slid the side door shut.

Randy and I’d already spent too much time waiting, creeping along toward arrivals. Mostly unfamiliar with the roads and lay-out of this terminal, Randy took a wrong turn and we ended up looping back around, back into the gridlock. In the end, that error proved OK timing wise.

I felt gratitude for drivers who allowed us to nudge into line. We did the same. I felt not so much appreciation for the driver of the big black pick-up truck with Wisconsin license plates. I observed bullying moves. But I suppose when you’re piloting a bulky truck…

I felt thankfulness also for the airport traffic director, attempting to create order from a traffic mess. I didn’t envy his job of keeping motorists and pedestrians safe.

Flying into MSP. (Minnesota Prairie Roots copyrighted file photo December 2015)

In the end, I got that long-awaited hug. Six months have passed since I’ve seen my son, who moved to Indiana in August to pursue his PhD at Purdue University. Oh, the joy in that first hug. The love that filled my mama’s heart. We held each other tight. Lingering. Savoring the moment.

In only days, that will repeat with my second daughter, whom I have not seen since mid-May. I’m anticipating the moment when she and her husband pull into the driveway after a 4 ½ hour drive from Madison, Wisconsin. I will wrap her in my arms. Lingering. Savoring the moment.

On Sunday, the eldest daughter, her husband and our two grandchildren will join us, completing the family circle. This will be our first Christmas together in five years. There will be more hugging and lingering. And joy filling this mother’s heart.

© Copyright 2021 Audrey Kletscher Helbling


31 Responses to “Christmas homecoming”

  1. beth Says:

    how very wonderful, the ultimate mother’s joy and a universal one

  2. I can really relate to the airport loop around… been there and done that on purpose and by mistake many many times. At least you didn’t end up at the airport post office!
    Happy for you that your family is able to celebrate together this year. Stay safe and enjoy the moments.

    • Thank you. We’re trying our best to stay safe. I so wish you could be with all of your family also. Be safe and enjoy Christmas with your hubby. And perhaps his family?

      • Thanks for the thoughts. It has been many years since I have spent the holidays with my adult kids… we are having the first get together here in at least 4 years with Hubby’s adult kids and a partner. Anxiety a bit, due to current virus situation.

      • Hopefully if everyone is vaccinated and boosted, you will be OK. I understand the anxiety. It lurks. My greatest concern is for my young grandson, not yet old enough to be vaccinated.

      • Here, at our house everyone is vaccinated, boosters are just now being scheduled for my age group and I will get mine in January. It is an organized in place plan which is why the government decided to lockdown so that it would give the hospitals and the boosters time to get ahead of the new variant. The EU has now proposed that starting in January that fully vaccinated will only be when you also have the most current booster. Not sure how that will fall with all the EU members.

      • I’m hoping that the US also changes the definition of “fully vaccinated” to include the current booster. Stay well. I’m thankful you can get your booster soon.

  3. Judith Says:

    I am so pleased for you Audrey, and that your family can re-unite under your roof is wonderful. So many hugs, you’ll all have cracked ribs! Have a glorious Christmas.
    Like so many, we’ll be toasting ‘absent friends’ too. But mostly, it’s the joy we’ve all earned this year that will crown the day with loved ones.
    And just to say that I have enjoyed reading your posts throughout the year, such a window on your country.

  4. Valerie Says:

    What a blessing! Enjoy your time together. So happy for you.

  5. Susan Ready Says:

    Wow Audrey to have them all under the same roof what a blessing to you and Randy. Wishing you the joys of the season.
    Merry Christmas and Happy New Year

  6. Lynn Kaehler Lally Says:

    Merry Christmas, Audrey, from one Kletscher relative to another!


    How wonderful you can all be together this Christmas! Hugs from afar!!

  8. Becky Richie Says:

    Merry Christmas, enjoy this time with your family.. Thanks for your column, it gives so many such joy and warm feelings.🎄

  9. Norma Says:

    Audrey, I am so happy for you and your family being together this Christmas. It’s been a long time for my family to be together. Lots of hugs and kisses for you will be exchanged. Merry Christmas!! Norma

  10. ❤️❤️❤️❤️

  11. Norma Says:

    Yes Audrey. I do miss them. My youngest daughter moved to Montana just before Thanksgiving. Her husband has family that lives there. Rebecca and Nate still are here in Bakersfield, and my middle child lives in Northern California. She’s closer to Oregon than she is here, so I only see her a couple times a year. And Jennifer lives in Mississippi, so I do understand how you feel.

  12. The best…. having all the children and grands together under your roof, I”m so happy for you and Randy.

  13. Ruth Says:

    Hugs to you Audrey. I enjoyed your descriptions of the reunion and love.

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