When my oldest was a baby, I joined a moms’ group that met at our local library. I can’t believe that I’ve known most of these women for less than ten years because they are my best buds, and I can barely remember life before them! Anyway, one of the things that binds us so tightly together is our love of food. If we’re not at a restaurant for a “Moms’ Night Out,” then we’re gathering at someone’s house for a potluck, with or without children.
Five years back, in our desperate attempt to find ways to burn daylight with our little kids, we decided to have a weekly traveling summer potluck. We started with seven families, designated Thursday as our day, and made up a schedule. The kids dubbed our weekly gatherings “Thursday Lunch Bunch,” and although some participants have come and gone, the core group has remained together. Here are the rules:
1. The host family provides the main course and the beverages (yes, alcohol is involved, for the mothers, of course).
2. The guest families bring a variety of sides and desserts.
3. The host family is allowed to invite whomever else they want to, which depends greatly on the size of their yard/house and available entertainment options covering a variety of ages. (Our oldest “kid” just turned 18, and the youngest is four, although many of the bigger kids have begun opting out recently. We don’t really care though, because these gatherings are more for us than for them!)
Some of our houses have pools (not mine), and others of us have to get a little more creative, but the general idea is we play outside, unplugged, and old school. Today was the hottest day I can remember in recent Chicago history. I mean it was pure misery, and the host home was one of those pool-less ones. So we broke out the Slip & Slide, and the moms sat with our feet in the wading pool. Then there was a big sidewalk chalk session, where the kids made the longest hopscotch I’ve ever seen. When they got too hot doing that, they kicked the moms out of the baby pool and had a rousing game of “Hot Potato” using an uneaten hot dog for the potato. And of course, there was food. Here’s today’s spread:
It’s pretty modest because we were missing some families and, my God it was so hot no one wanted to cook! (See my “Patrick Mousse” there at the front of the table? No actual “cooking” going on with that one!) But that’s the beauty of a potluck with kids: they’re generally happy with a simple sandwich or a hot dog, and they’d rather graze and wait for dessert anyway. Which leads me to one of the perils of having a regular potluck: we don’t always check in with each other, and sometimes we end up with five fruit dishes or no dessert (which is what happened today, when dessert consisted of popsicles!). But no one ultimately cared because DID I MENTION HOW FREAKIN’ HOT IT WAS? And also because the kids can’t wait for Thursdays, no matter where we end up or what they eat. We’re so lucky!0