Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Join the “Thanksgiving The Real Deal” movement November 21, 2013

TYPICALLY, I’M NOT ONE to jump on the bandwagon of a cause. If I have a strong opinion on a topic, I will express my viewpoint in a one-on-one conversation. That’s just me. But, occasionally, I will publicly voice my opinion here on a social issue.

This time that issue is retail stores opening on Thanksgiving Day and a new online grassroots effort to encourage people not to shop on Thanksgiving.

Thanksgiving the real deal logo

I wholeheartedly support my friend Beth Ann Chiles of Mason City, Iowa, and her co-organizer, Katybeth Jensen of Chicago, in their Facebook campaign, “Thanksgiving The Real Deal,” aimed at consumers, not retailers. Their premise is simple. If people don’t shop on Thanksgiving, retailers won’t feel pressured to be open.

Kind of the supply and demand premise. If there are no shoppers on Thanksgiving, there is no need for retail stores to begin Black Friday sales on Thursday.

Here’s a snippet of their thoughts:

Thanksgiving is about giving thanks, being grateful, and feeling content. It’s about timing dinner around football games, not store openings. It’s about arguing with family members over politics, not with strangers over a toaster. It’s about eating too much, not spending too much. It’s about dreading kissing Uncle Albert or Aunt Mabel, not dreading long check-out lines. It’s about acing someone out of the last piece of pie, not a parking spot. It’s about arguing with kids over dishes, not a trip to the mall. It’s about putting away left-overs, not shopping bags….

…Thanksgiving is the best deal in town; it’s priceless. Let’s work together to keep it that way by protecting it from retail fear and the bait of a bargain!

My brother and sister-in-law brought a stack of newspaper ads for us to peruse after dinner.

This photo shows Black Friday ads from a few years ago in a Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo. This image is not indicative of businesses open on Thanksgiving Day and is used here for illustration purposes only. On the “Thanksgiving The Real Deal” Facebook page, you will find a listing of retailers NOT open on Thanksgiving.

Now, choosing to endorse the “Thanksgiving The Real Deal” campaign was a no-brainer for me. I’ve never even shopped on Black Friday. I’ve heard, read and viewed the negative news stories about shoppers in pursuit of bargains. No, thank you. I’m not so driven to score a bargain that I would fight crowds or even arise early to shop on Black Friday.

Thanksgiving Day dinner at my house with family.

Thanksgiving Day dinner at my house with family. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo.

And now that hysteria has edged into Thanksgiving Day, a holiday when we should be celebrating with family around the dining room table. I am very much a family-oriented person. I can’t imagine placing shopping before family or anyone wanting to work retail rather than gather with family or friends on Thanksgiving.

Some folks, like those with jobs in law enforcement, the medical field, firefighting and such, need to work, holiday or not. My second daughter, in fact, is on call on Thanksgiving Day as a Spanish medical interpreter. I won’t see her; she lives 300 miles away.

But if you are employed in retail, you shouldn’t have to work on Thanksgiving. These stores do not need to be open.

Like the organizers of “Thanksgiving The Real Deal,” I ask you to choose family instead of shopping. Show your public support for this cause on the campaign’s Facebook page (click here) and follow the suggestions to spread the word about this movement.

Focus, too, on giving thanks on Thanksgiving.

Stand strong against the societal pressures of consumerism. Choose not to shop on Thanksgiving.

© Copyright 2013 Audrey Kletscher Helbling


Black Friday shopping my way & a shooting November 25, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — Audrey Kletscher Helbling @ 6:10 PM
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Amber's $10 vintage coat.

SO, DEAR READERS, did you shop today, on Black Friday?

I hadn’t intended to, but then my oldest daughter ran downtown to the bank and I decided to tag along. We, along with my other daughter, perused merchandise at The Clothes Closet, a used clothing store operated by the Faribault Senior Center.

Amber, the oldest, walked out with what she termed a “vintage” jacket. Price: $10. You can judge whether this qualifies as “vintage.” She’s happy, even though her brother claims she looks like Santa in the coat. (Brothers!)

As a bonus, the clerk threw in a free pair of $2 earrings on a “buy one, get one half price” special.

After lunch, during which my husband called from work in Northfield to tell me about a shooting last night near the Target store, Amber left to return to her Minneapolis home and Miranda and I headed to the Salvation Army Store. (Click here to read about the Target area shooting, which began with an armed robbery and reported shooting in Faribault.)

Yes, I realize that now you could care less about any purchases I made and you would rather hear details of that shooting. But, alas, I have nothing more to tell you about the crime or the waiting-in-line Target shoppers who heard the gun shots and saw the cop cars and helicopter.

At the Salvation Army Store in Faribault, signs of an earlier crime remained in a boarded up front window. Several weeks ago a man allegedly drove into the building then fled the scene. Why is it taking so long to replace that window?

All this crime aside—and honestly, we typically do not have shootings in Rice County or cars driving into buildings—the second daughter and I spent $9.21 at the Salvation Army. Miranda got a shirt and a dress. I got two vintage trays and an original painting.

No crowds. No rush. No shootings. No worries. Just bargains with the money going to a good cause to boot.

HOW WAS YOUR Black Friday? What did you do? If you went shopping, tell me about your experiences and deals.

A $4 dress and a $2 shirt from the Salvation Army.

I purchased two vintage trays for $1.

© Copyright 2011 Audrey Kletscher Helbling


Thoughts on the day after Thanksgiving

Filed under: Uncategorized — Audrey Kletscher Helbling @ 10:46 AM
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Thanksgiving Day dinner at my house with family.

ON THE DAY after Thanksgiving I am thankful…

  • …that I am not battling the mobs searching for bargains, even if my sister terms Black Friday shopping as “fun.” She regales me with tales of shoppers smashing shopping carts into hers and the rule she and her daughter follow: “We won’t fight anyone over anything; it’s not worth it.” I’ve figured out the real reason she shops today. It’s all about tradition and being with her daughter and not really about the bargains.
  • …that my mom could spend another Thanksgiving with me, my family and other members of my extended family. She’s 79 and not in the best of health. Last evening my husband and I drove her up to the McStop in Lakeville where my uncle and cousin met us. My mom will spend several days with her Arkansas sisters, her brother and their spouses in Minneapolis. Family time is precious.
  • …for the 60-degree temperatures Thanksgiving afternoon that prompted us to pull out the lawn chairs and sit on the patio, the sun warming our backs in a brisk wind.
  • …that my second daughter made it home for Thanksgiving, her first trip back from eastern Wisconsin since May. She’s a Spanish medical interpreter and, with only one weekend a month free of on-call status, simply can’t come back to Minnesota as often as I’d like.
  • …that my oldest daughter who lives in Minneapolis opted to sleep here on Thanksgiving, making me a particularly happy mom. I love having all three of my kids together with my husband and me for an evening and then all tucked into our beds, under the same roof, for a night.
  • …that I am going to be a great aunt for the fifth time. My nephew made the announcement yesterday that he and his wife are expecting a baby in June.

I hope your Thanksgiving was as wonderful as mine.

HOW WERE YOU blessed this Thanksgiving?

© Copyright 2011 Audrey Kletscher Helbling


Thanksgiving family memories November 26, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — Audrey Kletscher Helbling @ 12:50 PM
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I CAN’T IMAGINE Thanksgiving without family. They make the day memorable and fun and cherished.

This year 14 of us sat down to a turkey dinner at our house. That’s really a small number given if everyone from my side of the family attended, 26 of us would gather around the tables. Seldom, though, are we all together on Thanksgiving or Easter; that usually happens only at Christmas and never in my small, cramped house.

Anyway, Thursday’s get together provided plenty of memorable moments and laughter, some of which I’ll share. Others are best kept within the family. Here, for your entertainment, are some of those publishable moments:

  • My mom arrived with two cans of corn, soda crackers, cheddar cheese and other ingredients for a scalloped corn dish which she insisted I requested for my eldest. I kept insisting that I had not requested the corn and my daughter, who was called upon to help prepare the dish, kept insisting this was not her favorite corn. No matter how loudly my daughter and I protested, we could not convince my mom that we had not asked for the vegetable. Later, when my sister, L, arrived, we learned that she had requested the corn and that our niece, H, loves it.
  • The corn-requesting sister failed to bring the prune-filled fruit stuffing that is our mother’s favorite and which a certain sister-in-law detests. My youngest brother then shared that the first time he had Thanksgiving dinner with his in-laws, he told them he didn’t like fruit stuffing. They looked at him like he was crazy and told him they didn’t have fruit in their dressing.
  • That same brother wore jeans to Thanksgiving dinner. This is significant because, as his wife revealed, he has not worn jeans in some 25 years. They went jean shopping on her recent birthday and my brother bought not one, but two pair, of jeans.  I don’t know whether the fact that my brother is an attorney has anything to do with his two-plus decades of boycotting blue jeans or not. But I do know that he’s missed out on many years of comfort.


At 11:33 a.m. on November 25, 2010, my sister, L, had nothing to say.

  • At exactly 11:33 a.m., my sister, L, stated that she had nothing to say/was speechless. I was in the other room and did not hear why she said this. But, we all made a very big deal of this statement given my sister has never been at a loss for words. She always speaks her mind. A roomful of witnesses duly noted the time and I declared it a monumental moment in family history. (This same sister later threatened to light my vintage Thanksgiving candles.)


The vintage Thanksgiving candles that will never be touched by fire.

  • During an interrogation about any men in her life, my second daughter rolled her eyes. This did not go unnoticed and a brief discussion ensued on this inherited family trait. I roll my eyes, my kids all roll their eyes and my sister and her daughter roll their eyes. My sister-in-law says her kids are not allowed to roll their eyes. Uh, huh.
  • My husband failed to remove the foil cover from the turkey during baking. A pale white turkey is not a pleasant sight.
  • When I started whipping cream for the pumpkin dessert, my sister-in-law called her son to “watch Aunt Audrey make real whipped cream.”
  • My eldest brought a to-die-for cheesecake, which she whipped up by hand because she could not find the beaters for her hand-mixer.
  • Two of my nieces, a nephew and my son washed and dried the dishes. My 16-year-old, who towers at six-foot-one (or is it two), complained about the low sink.


My tall, tall son declares our sink "too low." That's as good a reason as any for purchasing a replacement for my vintage brown sink, don't you think? I would really like to win a kitchen make-over.

  • I made my sister and my middle brother and his significant other tromp outside in the cold and snow to look at siding samples for the front of our house.
  • My sister-in-law commented on the brown shirts my son and eldest were wearing and said brown was the color to wear for Thanksgiving. She was dressed in a button-up red sweater and a shirt she would have to button over if she was in church. She told me I was wearing an Easter shirt. I told her I didn’t care.


I have never pretended to be fashionable. I wore this "Easter shirt" for Thanksgiving because I wanted to be cool (I'm a woman over 50) and comfortable while working in the kitchen.

  • My brother offered $1,500 for a painting I purchased for $7 at a recycled art sale at the Paradise Center for the Arts in Faribault. I quickly accepted the offer for the Jose Maria de Servin painting, which is worth considerably more than $7. He quickly withdrew his offer, saying he was “just kidding.”

My bargain Jose Maria de Servin painting

  • Family members gathered around the dining room table after dinner poring over newspaper ads. None of us, except the momentarily speechless sister (see above), shops on Black Friday. She informed us that she enjoys the thrill of the hunt while regaling us with stories about shoving shoppers and angry shoppers in the parking lot. She successfully convinced all of us to stay home on Black Friday.


My brother and sister-in-law brought a stack of newspaper ads for us to peruse after dinner.

WHAT ARE YOUR THANKSGIVING stories? If you have a publishable story to share, send it my way via a comment to Minnesota Prairie Roots.

© Copyright 2010 Audrey Kletscher Helbling