During a drought in 1936, as the United States slowly crawled out of the Great Depression, my great grandfather’s berry crop failed.
His father pointed out that their small town was filled with old Germans who liked to drink, and with that my great grandpa purchased three cases of beer and turned his small farmer’s market into a tavern. He vowed that anyone’s wife or mother would be comfortable dining at his tavern, and for over sixty years my family served men, women, and families throughout central Illinois.
The story of the tavern’s beginning has been passed down, and my children are the fourth generation to hear the tale. I have heard the tale numerous times from my grandfather, a skilled storyteller. Since I was a girl, I have delighted in his stories of life when he was young in our small hometown.
My own sense of identity has always been strengthened by his stories. It seems the better I know the people and place I am from, the better I know myself.
So I get why the Israelites are told in the First Reading, Deuteronomy 4:9, to remember everything they have seen and read. They are to tell their children and grandchildren so everyone will know his or her story and place in God’s plan.
Each family has a story. Mine includes a drought and beer and the best corn fritters in the world.
And all of our stories are part of God’s story. We cannot forget who we are, where we come from, or what God has done for us. We must remember how God saved us, how He has stood with us in the suffering and the triumphs. This is our story.
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Bonnie Engstrom is a writer, baker, speaker, and homemaker. She lives with her husband and eight children in Illinois. Bonnie is the author of "61 Minutes to a Miracle" which tells the story of her son's miracle that was approved by Pope Francis for the beatification of Venerable Fulton Sheen. She likes to bake, putz about the yard, and tell her kids to tidy the house. She is the author of the Blessed Conversations Mystery: Believe study found here. You can find out more about her here.