Find Your Village

This last weekend we had our monthly potluck. This month our theme was Foods of Africa. There was so much delicious food! We had jollof rice, barbecue from South Africa, briouat from Moracco, and a tasty grilled chicken with lemon sauce.

I started the monthly potluck because I missed my friends. Before we all had kids we would see each other in a regular basis. A few of us lived downtown near each other, more of us worked downtown, and we were all willing to drive the little distance it took to get to the party. Once kids came into the picture attendance rates plummeted, mine included. We began to only see friends at birthday parties or random events spaced far and few between. When we did see friends at these events it was a quick hug and hello before the hosts ran off to attend to their extended family that had joined the celebration. As a stay at home mom, I missed not only my friends, but the adult interaction that comes with going to school, work, and community events.

It was a slow go at first. I made the potlucks be the first Saturday of every month starting in the early evening. That way people would be able to have the majority of their Saturday to do whatever they needed to, and then they could come hang out with friends for the remainder. For the first two potlucks my sister was the only person that came. She very kindly asked me if I was sure these people were my friends. I assured her that yes, indeed they were my friends, and gave her her the oft misquoted line from Field of Dreams: If you build it, they will come (really the quote is he will come).

After that, more people showed up. The goal wasn’t ever for everyone to show up every month, although, the more the merrier. The goal was to have something every month that people could attend if they could. Every month the invitation includes the line “As always, if you make it, wonderful, and if not, we look forward to seeing you next time.” I never wanted anyone to feel pressure to make it. I wanted people to feel that they weren’t alone in whatever they were going through. There are some people who make almost every single potluck. We have some people that have never made it; and we have the people in between. Heck, just this last year I have only made it to a few.

The potlucks are loud, crazy, and chaotic. If everyone shows up we have 16 kids under the age of 15, plus all of the adults that belong to them, and a few adults with no kids. It’s rare that we get everyone and there have certainly been months when only a few people have shown up. But the most important thing is that we all get to hang out, reminisce, and let the kids run around without the added stress of hosting a celebration with various family members judging.

Every month the potluck theme is different. Some theme’s only lasted once. Other themes are waiting for an old theme to drop off before being implemented, like seafood.

  • January – Breakfast foods
  • February – Asian foods
  • March – European foods
  • April – Italian
  • May – Mexican foods
  • June – Halfway to Thanksgiving
  • July – Grilled foods at a pool or park
  • August – It’s too F’ing hot to cook (bring food from the store)
  • September – Desserts
  • October – African foods
  • November – Halloween’s last hurrah
  • December – Comfort foods

It’s not a perfect village, but it is one amazing group of people. Find your village. It won’t be perfect. It won’t fulfill everything you need in a social setting, but it will help you realize that you aren’t alone. There are others going through some weird crazy stuff. It’s not just you.