Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Beyond simply Christmas trees December 6, 2022

A nutcracker ornament nestles in a Christmas Tree at Faribault’s Central Park. (Minnesota Prairie Roots copyrighted photo December 2022)

WHENEVER I FEEL DISCOURAGED by disparaging attitudes in my community, I need only shift my focus to change my mindset. So many people in Faribault are doing really good things to help each other in a time when individuals and families are struggling. Never is that more evident than during the holiday season.

Some of the 47 trees edging the sidewalk. (Minnesota Prairie Roots copyrighted photo December 2022)

Buckham West, where parks & rec is based, donated a tree (Minnesota Prairie Roots copyrighted photo December 2022)
Love this elf tree topper. (Minnesota Prairie Roots copyrighted photo December 2022)

One example of community generosity is currently displayed at Central Park, where 47 decorated Christmas trees line the sidewalk along Second Avenue. These are more than simply trees adding a festive flair to Faribault. These are trees purchased and decorated by non-profits, businesses, service organizations and more through the city Parks and Recreation Department’s Adopt a Tree Program.

In the distance, to the far left is St. Vincent de Paul. (Minnesota Prairie Roots copyrighted photo December 2022)

The city works with local non-profit St. Vincent de Paul, just across the street from the park, to give the trees to families in need. This Thursday, December 8, the trees come down for distribution to those selected to receive this bit of holiday cheer.

The Lion’s Club is a community service focused orgnization. (Minnesota Prairie Roots copyrighted photo December 2022)
Stars shine light and hope, here in a tree topper. (Minnesota Prairie Roots copyrighted photo Decmeber 2022)
Many local businesses, like Affinity Plus, donated trees. (Minnesota Prairie Roots copyrighted photo December 2022)

As I view it, these donated trees stretch beyond decorating homes that would otherwise be without Christmas trees. These trees are about giving hope. These trees are about showing care, compassion and love. Both donors and recipients likely experience those feelings. A sense of community connection flourishes.

Sponsors of this tree focus on mental health, specifically suicide prevention and supporting survivors. (Minnesota Prairie Roots copyrighted photo December 2022)

In these assuredly tough economic and divisive times, we need, more than ever, to be there for one another. To see the humanity in each other, to respect one another, to support and care for one another. To connect as a community.

A gnome tops a tree. (Minnesota Prairie Roots copyrighted photo December 2022)
Looking at the trees toward the south. (Minnesota Prairie Roots copyrighted photo December 2022)
The variety of ornaments, including this shiny reindeer, is impressive. (Minnesota Prairie Roots copyrighted photo December 2022)

Only several years into Adopt a Tree, the program is growing with 15 more trees than in 2021. Such generosity of spirit touches me, shows me that the Faribault community cares. For that I feel grateful.

© Copyright 2022 Audrey Kletscher Helbling