Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Christmas blessings in images & words December 24, 2017

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While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son.

 

 

She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.

 

 

And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night.

 

 

When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”

 

 

So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger.

 

 

During the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem and asked, “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star in the east and have come to worship him.”

 

 

After they had heard the king, they went on their way, and the star they had seen in the east went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was.

 

 

Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold and of incense and of myrrh.

 

 

MY DEAR READERS,

I wish for you the gifts of good health, happiness, peace, and wonderful times with family and friends. May joy and contentment ease into your days, even if you are missing loved ones or dealing with challenges. Life is a gift. And you are, too.

Merry Christmas!

Audrey

 

Text comes from the gospels of Matthew and Luke, chapters 2.

Copyright 2017 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

 

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A collection of creative creches showcased in Faribault December 12, 2017

SEVERAL YEARS AGO, in a holiday funk, I opted to minimize my decorating. I’d get a Christmas tree and maybe set out a few other festive items. Mostly, though, I didn’t care. And I figured no one else would care either.

How wrong that assumption.

 

The Nativity set handcrafted by my maternal grandfather.

 

When the grown kids returned home for Christmas, they noticed the absence of the Nativity scene handcrafted by their great grandpa. It went up every year during their childhoods. Tradition, so it seems, holds value based on the protests of my offspring.

I never made the mistake again. The barn sawed, nailed and painted by my grandfather and the plaster of Paris baby Jesus, his parents and ensemble always go on display now. They should, given the reason for Christmas.

 

A holiday banner flags a light post next to the Paradise Center for the Arts.

 

 

 

The memory of that faux pas surfaced when I stopped recently at the Paradise Center for the Arts in historic downtown Faribault. I wanted to see the current (through December 22) gallery exhibit, Kathleen Putrah’s Creche Exhibition.

 

 

The show features samples from the rural Faribault woman’s 150 Nativity sets collected around the world.

 

 

Additionally, a Christmas tree holds some 700 ornaments accumulated by Putrah.

 

 

 

 

It’s an impressive collection, especially the uniqueness of some pieces. Never before have I seen the Holy Family portrayed as apes, an interpretation I found odd.

 

A painting by Adele Beals presents the traditional interpretation of the Nativity.

 

I’m more of a traditionalist.

 

 

 

 

But that’s the thing about art. It opens the doors to creative interpretation, both to the artist and to the art appreciator.

 

FYI: The Paradise Center for the Arts, 321 Central Avenue North, is open from noon to 5 p.m. Tuesday – Saturday and until 8 p.m. Thursdays. The creche exhibit runs through December 22.

© Copyright 2017 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

 

Beyond simply a Nativity scene December 23, 2016

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AT FIRST GLANCE, this Nativity scene appears standard. You’ve got your Holy Family, the three wisemen, the shepherds and the animals all corralled inside a stable.

 

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But, if you look closer, you notice ears of corn placed before the animals on the bed of straw. I’ve never seen that before in a Nativity. Details matter. Details impress. Details make this particular Nativity, which for decades of Christmases has stood in my community of Faribault, memorable.

Why?

 

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To me, that corn symbolizes the basic human needs we each have for food, clothing and shelter. Most of us have those life necessities. Some don’t. I am grateful to the many loving and giving individuals, businesses, charities and organizations that this holiday season will gift others with food, clothing and, yes, even shelter. Thank you.

 

nativity-wisemen

 

Then there are needs that extend beyond the physical to emotional. We can help others by simply caring, by reaching out, by listening. I have friends who are grieving, friends who are ill, friends who have lost their jobs (including a family of seven), friends who are struggling with other difficulties. It’s tough sometimes to know what to say, how to best help. But if I remain silent, then I am doing nothing. So I encourage, ask questions, show I care simply by the time I take to show I care. Could I do more? Probably.

As hard as life is sometimes, there’s always help. There’s always hope. There’s always someone reaching inside their storehouses of grain to offer ears of corn.

 

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We are blessed. I am blessed.

© Copyright 2016 Audrey Kletscher Helbling