Episcopal Church Women of St. Michael’s celebrate the holidays with cookie swap

Rhonda Cobb of Poland, center, reacts after being the one to finally complete unwrapping a package that was passed around the table at St. Michael’s Episcopal Church in Auburn on Tuesday night. At left, trying to roll doubles is Susanna Chatametikool, left, of Lewiston as Evelyn Ehrenfried, of Lewiston, right, looks on. The object of the game is to unwrap a package while wearing a hat and oven mitts before the person next to you rolls doubles. As soon as doubles are rolled, everyone grabs at the package before any more wrapping can be pulled off and it is passed to the next in line with the previous “unwrapper” rolling the dice. (Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal)

AUBURN — Nine women, two oven mitts and one present.

The Episcopal Church Women of St. Michael’s met for their annual Christmas party and cookie swap Tuesday night at the church on Pleasant Street.

The first order of the evening: One game of “Open the Present.”

Ellie Wheeler provided and wrapped the present in question, which had to be opened while wearing oven mitts. The person next to the unwrapper rolls two dice until they get doubles and the unwrapper has that long to try to open the package. In that time, two oven mitts and a Santa hat also have to be put on.

“I hope none of us have lice,” member Mary Buzzell joked.

Tuesday night’s present was wrapped a little more ambitiously than the average present. This one was wrapped in paper, inside a thoroughly taped box and then multiple layers of tissue paper. Easy enough when you can use your thumbs. But the women carried on and finally on the second time around, Rhonda Cobb of Poland won.

Wheeler came close but said, “I don’t want to win; I brought the present!” The gift was two dish towels, the oven mitts and the red floppy Santa hat.

Following the game, the nine women each picked a number from a bowl to start their Yankee swap. This year’s most “stolen” present was a jar dressed up as a penguin full of homemade mints from Mary Lou Buzzell. Other gifts included a flannel blanket, Christmas-themed cheese spreaders and a tea set.

Once the gift exchange was done, the real business began: the swapping of the homemade cookies. Apple spice, oatmeal, several varieties of chocolate chip, ginger snaps, meringue drops and peppermint crisps were some of the offerings this year. Each participant brings a tray of cookies and takes home a container that can be filled with any of the other cookies.

The party ended after a fair amount of sampling and with each container filled.

The Episcopal Church Women hold fundraisers during the year to raise money to donate to local charities and foundations. Group leader Janet Kazar said some of the places they give to are Hope Haven Gospel Mission, Trinity Jubilee Center, Safe Voices, the high schools and the Hospice House.

She said this year they raised more than $1,200 at their pre-Thanksgiving fair.

Kazar said they also have a giving tree open to the entire congregation, which gives Christmas presents to Safe Voices, a domestic violence resource center.

“We have about 12 women in our group; we could use some more,” Kazar said.

Episcopal Church Women will also hold an event Dec. 16 for Repair of Maine, an ex-convict community re-entry program.

“It’s for men coming out of jail and re-entering society,” Mary Lou Buzzell said. “We try to give furniture and household items.”

A calender of the group’s events can be found at stmichaelsmaine.org.

The group gathers for a photo before starting a Yankee gift swap. (Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal)

A sampling of the cookies that the ladies baked and shared. (Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal)