Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Gathering with the in-laws at the annual family reunion August 13, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — Audrey Kletscher Helbling @ 6:00 AM
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Grandma Cheryl and Grandpa Roger help 6-month-old Aston make a luminary.

Grandma Cheryl and Grandpa Roger help 5-month-old grandson Aston with artwork on a luminary.

I AM BLESSED beyond measure to be a part of extended families who still care enough about the connections of blood lines and histories to reunite each summer.

This past weekend my husband, 19-year-old son and I headed north and west to the annual Helbling family reunion, this year in Morris. Our daughters, one of whom is preoccupied with wedding plans and packing to move while the other lives 10 hours from western Minnesota, could not attend. But I am used to that, having my own three together only once or twice a year.

Cousins and a cousin-in-law going strong in the gunny sack race until...

Cousins and a cousin-in-law going strong in the gunny sack race until…

...the brothers wipe out.

…the brothers wipe out.

Seeing my in-laws and their families, including lots of little ones, always proves a fun time from conversation to laughter and, this year, a few old-fashioned games tossed into the mix. No I did not participate. I am smarter than that.

The weather in Morris proved perfect with sunshine and intermittent clouds and temps more befitting of September than August. But I am not complaining. I love this kind of weather.

It was the perfect weekend, in so many ways.

My great nephew Cameron eyes the bocce balls.

My great nephew Cameron reaches for a Bocce ball rather than the smaller (and safer) child-sized balls.

Husband and wife team, right; my son and his godmother, middle; and niece and nephew-in-law line up for a three-legged race.

Husband (my nephew) and wife team, right; my son and his godmother (my sister-in-law), middle; and my niece and nephew-in-law line up for a three-legged race.

The final, ahem, leg of the race. The son and godmother were lagging way behind.

The final, ahem, leg of the race. The son and godmother were lagging way behind.

My nephew Nate tends to his nephew, Tristan, following a hand injury during a gunny sack race.

My nephew Nate tends to his nephew, Tristan, following a hand injury during a gunny sack race.

We all designed luminaries, including this one by my nephew-in-law Jason with his favorite quote, one that sits on his work desk.

We all designed luminaries, including this one by my nephew-in-law Jason with his favorite quote, one that sits on his work desk.

Jason and Jocelyn's oldest daughter, my great niece Meghan, works on her luminary.

Jason and Jocelyn’s oldest daughter, my great niece Meghan, works on her luminary.

Laughter and conversation around the campfire.

Laughter and conversation around the campfire.

The family luminaries light the path from the campfire and up the driveway to my sister-in-law and brother-in-law's home in Morris.

The family luminaries light the path from the campfire up the driveway to my sister-in-law and brother-in-law’s home in Morris.

© Copyright 2013 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

 

Gathering with my in-laws, and a few out-laws August 25, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — Audrey Kletscher Helbling @ 8:16 AM
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MY HUSBAND AND I recently traveled to Santiago. Not Chile. Minnesota.

There we gathered on a 2 ½-acre parcel of land in Sherburne County northeast of Becker to reconnect with family for what will become an annual summer reunion of the Tom and Betty Helbling family.

The rural Buckman home where my husband grew up after his family moved from St. Anthony, N. D. The farm place was sold after Randy’s mother died and his father remarried. We drove past the home place en route to the reunion last Saturday. It’s changed with the house resided, the barn roof sagging.

Betty, my husband’s mother, died nearly 19 years ago at the age of 59. And, as anyone who has lost a mother too early in life knows, maintaining family ties after that takes extra effort.

Thanks mostly to Randy’s sisters, his family (seven remaining siblings and their families and his dad and stepmother) has continued to gather each Christmas as able.

My eldest daughter, Amber, and great niece, Meghan. Some family members slept in tents, others inside the house and yet others were close enough to drive home and return the next morning.  Three extended family members also traveled from Center City, North Dakota, for the reunion.

But, as years passed and nieces and nephews married and had children, the family has reached a size where we can no longer all fit under one roof on a snowy Minnesota holiday. Thus the shift was made, just this year, to a summer reunion.

It’s a good change—no more worrying about snowstorms or icy roads—which should allow others, besides those with big enough houses, to host the reunion. Randy and I will take our turn eventually, but perhaps not for awhile as the reunion likely will fall on the same date as the son’s college move-in, like it did this year. And activities and noise will be more limited by our location on a small lot in a small city with neighbors right next door.

My brother-in-law, Jerry (in his out-law t-shirt), and my nephew’s wife, Heidi, tossed bean bags after supper.

Niece Kristina and Corey hosted this year’s gathering on a picture perfect Saturday, except for evening rainfall which forced us into the garage. But there were no complaints about the much-needed moisture.

My brother-in-law, Roger, is a the target for balls aimed by his granddaughter, Kiera.

My brother-in-law, Marty, took a spin on the bike and wiped out before I ran in the house and grabbed my camera.

Instead, there was laughter and reminiscing; plenty of smart talk; memories shared and made; quick zips around the yard on a mini motorcycle; bean bag tossing; ball throwing to the dogs and at grandpa; LEGO building; and cuddling the newest family member, three-week-old Kate.

And then the announcement: We’ll gain more family members in 2013 with the expected birth of two babies, plus the baby due in November of this year.

My niece, Jocelyn, with her three-week-old daughter Kate, the newest member of the Helbling family.

My mother-in-law Betty would be happy, oh, so happy to know her family is still growing and still gathering.

So sad to see the barn caving in on the former Helbling farm south of Buckman.

I have many wonderful memories of family gatherings at the Helbling home place.

© Copyright 2012 Audrey Kletscher Helbling