Rogahn Family Hosts Cookie Exchange
Nov 18, 2014 08:45PM
● By Laura Ustanovska
Photo by Heart & Soul Photography
“It's not about the cookies,” reveals Mary Ellen Rogahn, host of a local cookie exchange. “I started the event on a whim to gather some girlfriends in my apartment in Hartland 26 years ago. Having stated on the invitation that this was the 'first annual,' it became an expectation to host every year. I serve a poinsettia punch (champagne and cranberry juice) so the event becomes more about the camaraderie of women than about the cookies. Having said that – don't try to EVER pass off a store-bought cookie…you WILL be called out.”
Mary Ellen goes on, “The event is very dear to me – a gathering of girlfriends who have touched my life deeply over the years and now touch each other's.” The “recipe” is simple: bake eight dozen cookies or not, dress for “the girls” and toast the holiday.
The first participant to leave sets in motion the final cookie count. Friends who are “in” are added up and divided by 96 (eight dozen); then each friend creates a cookie platter assortment they can share over the holidays.
“This is also the time I get to capture everyone’s attention for a holiday toast and moment of gratitude,” explains Mary Ellen. “It is always an emotional moment for me, since each friend represents a piece of my soul and I’m filled with gratitude for having them in my life. In 2004, the year of my divorce, I was so filled with emotion for the strength each of these women gave me that as I looked out among the group there were no words to describe my gratitude; I turned the toast over to the group to share what they were most grateful for, to share their joy. Since then it has become a time of affirmation where each friend shares her joys, sorrows, fears and accomplishments; it has become the essence of the cookie exchange – the gift of connection, a connection between friends.”
The Rogahns moved to Delafield in March of 2000 to return to Lake Country after having moved away for school and work. They love their neighborhood, a place with children of similar ages to Mary Ellen's own daughters Mykenzie (16) and Maddy (14). “We’ve had frequent and rotating family night dinners with night games, swimming and movies under the stars for the kids,” says Mary Ellen of the neighborhood.
Mary Ellen is presently the executive director of the Physician Leadership Institute, where she executes leadership curriculums and executive coaching for physicians. Her previous position as the director of Global Leadership Programs for GE Healthcare provided opportunities for world-wide travel. “In 2010, I brought the girls to Europe with me for a three-week, four-city tour of Stockholm, Amsterdam, Paris and London,” says Mary Ellen. “It was a great opportunity to see and experience different cultures with the girls, and they are anxious to plan our next trip to central Europe and Italy.” The family also takes lots of trips to Arizona to visit Mary Ellen's sister and her family. “We enjoy Florida for Disney and the beaches and northern Michigan and Wisconsin for water sports, campfires and reading books.”
Mykenzie is a junior at Arrowhead Union High School North Campus - Hartland, WI, and Maddy is in eighth grade at Kettle Moraine. They both enjoyed basketball and volleyball during their middle school years, and now appreciate water skiing on area lakes, hiking in Lapham Peak - Delafield, WI and participating in activities at the family's parish, St. Joan of Arc, including basketball, volleyball and various volunteer opportunities.
An article on the Rogahns would be incomplete without mention of their love of dogs. The family had its first pet, Kona, a Samoyed, for 13 years. Desperate for another dog, they rescued Bear in 2011. He is a 9-year-old Bernese/Border Collie Mix.
Mary Ellen, Mykenzie, Maddy and Bear wish all their Delafield neighbors the happiest of holiday seasons!