Mmmm…potluck and gift exchange, Americorps style

Sunday, we had our potluck Americorps holiday party, complete with holiday gifty goodness. We did the Secret Santa name exchange thing, and weirdly enough I got the Program Director – the same person I had for birthday exchange. Guess it saves having to gift-guess two people, but really, Tammy has pretty much anything she wants – amazing house in the mountains with stupendous views, meaningful work with people who admire and love her, a loving companion and even a few big, sloppy, happy dogs who happen to be better trained than half the Americorps team themselves. I mean, what do you get someone like that?

For her birthday, I got all the kids in the Project MARCH clubs to make her birthday cards. So, that idea was out for Christmas. And we had a $10 limit, which is great for the pocketbook but a strain on the creativity centers of the brain when you’re dealing with an independently wealthy and personally fulfilled workplace superior.

So I turned to something that has worked well for me in the past and whipped out a little of the ol’ Maker Geek magic and waled all artsy-creative-like on a helpless dried gourd.

I like working with gourds – they’re very inexpensive to get a hold of, easy to work and lend themselves to almost limitless creativity. Check out these gourd art images for some idea of what I’m talking about.

Anyway, after about a week or so of stressing over a design (I wanted to do a mountainscape, but the gourd repeatedly rejected the design until I got the hint and move on – and a few short but intense days of design transfer, Dremel tool carving, finicky hand staining and a few finishing touches…voila! I ended up with a rather nice looking carved and stained gourd with a oceanic fossil motif, complete with a rope-twined hemp and cowry-shell rim finish.

I took pictures on hub’s film camera. If they turn out, I’ll post them.

But before the gift exchange came the munch-o-rama. If there’s one thing to be said about an Americorps team, it’s that you quickly learn to tuck into food when it’s available, because money is tight and it’s never a good thing to turn down an embarrassment of food riches when it’s plonked down right in front of your face. What can’t be said is that not every Americorps team rises to the challenge presented by opportunities to contribute to this abundance. But this team rocks! Every Friday at the morning meeting, one of us has to provide the breakfast, and so far it’s been a brinkmanship battle of “how good can breakfast for 20-ish get for $30?” and it just gets better every week. This weekend’s potluck was no different. Folks, this team can cook (or, in some cases, shop) like nothing else. Those that cook do a tremendous job and those that buy don’t slack out on chips and ice.

It was wall to wall yummies, topped off with hot mulled cider and two wood-smoky fires (one indoor and one on the deck). It was potluck heaven. Excess extravaganza. Holiday hosannas. Yum…

Then we did presents. Tammy liked her gourd art bowl very much. And I got a mug from another member that perfectly captures my wild and eccentric spirit. It says “Impersonating a normal person day after day is exhausting.” Heh…I love it. I even got hot chocolate packs to fill it with.

Christmas, here I come!

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