In a few weeks the entire Demuth family–six siblings and their spouses and eighteen children–will gather in Wisconsin with Mom in the farmhouse on the plank road. Better than packages, holiday goodies, or Christmas music will be our time together and the stories we tell.
Often we share memories–remember when Cousin Tommy was stationed in Panama and surprised us by calling on Christmas Day? Remember the blizzard when Dad drove the snowmobile to Grandma Elsie’s to keep her furnace running? Remember when Mom and Dad were away and and we kids–well, Mom doesn’t like to leave the room in case somebody tells a story she hasn’t heard before.
But Mom herself is always good for a story. We all enjoy a retelling of a Sunday afternoon in the 1960s when Mom went to visit the neighbors. With Dad in charge, our four-year old brother left the house and rode his tricycle down the highway in search of Mom. Fortunately, the Packers were playing, so the highway was completely deserted. God and Vince Lombardi looked after our brother that day.
Family stories explain who we are and help us remember where we have been. Communities have stories as well. In Plank Road Summer, Mr. Mather tells of a guest putting nails in a feed trough at the Mather Inn. That bit of local lore is true, according to a letter that Edith McEachron wrote to her nieces and nephews. Aunt Edith shared that story of the plank road days to help her family remember their heritage and appreciate their community.
As you gather with your family and your community during the coming weeks, may you appreciate the gift of story. Hilda and I look forward to sharing with you the families and the community in Plank Road Summer.