Wednesday, May 02, 2007

May Day Memories

I spent the day yesterday thinking about what May Day meant when I was a child. Mom loved May Day and threw herself into celebrating it with the same gusto she assigned to every other holiday. For several days before May 1st, she assembled gaily colored construction paper, glue, scissors and lacy paper trim. Mom didn't have much money for such frivolous purchases, so bought her May basket makings at the five and dime a bit at a time for weeks in advance.

All four of her kids sat around the kitchen table with Mom, constructing May baskets. She encouraged us to use our imaginations. Mom was a master at such encouragement. Even the clumsiest attempts at creativity were praised to the high heavens. Some of the baskets were works of art, others barely recognizable as baskets. Just as long as they were sturdy enough to hold flowers, candy, or cookies, Mom's goals were met.

The evening before or the morning of our basket deliveries, we kids picked flowers. In those days by May first, we had blooming forsythia, lilacs, and spirea in our yard. Each basket featured Mom's home made goodies and a cheery nosegay of flowers. Grandma and Grandpa were always our first recipients. The fun of May Day was that the baskets should be a surprise, delivered in secret. I doubt if it was much of a secret, four chubby munchkins sitting May baskets on their porch while giggling and scrambling to run off before being seen. But we carried out our deliveries enthusiastically.

Mom made a list of those who received May baskets. Her list included relatives, neighbors, teachers, and friends. We kids ran all over town delivering our gifts, thrilled with the task and proud to be brightening the day of people we knew.

Mom said the purpose of May Day baskets was to bring joy to both the givers and the recipients. I miss our May Day activities. Do people deliver home made May baskets today? I haven't seen one since childhood. But every year on May 1st, I feel an overwhelming need to make and deliver baskets. The child in me surfaces and a little spark of joy sneaks in. Just about everyone I love is scattered around the country now. I'd love to magically transport myself to their doors, deposit a basket of joy then run away to hide and watch their faces when they discover the gift.

I hope you enjoy the nosegay of flowers I put on your grave, Mom. It was a combination birthday and May Day present. It was sister Jeanne's idea because she remembers May Day too. We all do.


Terri said...

I love to give gift baskets as gifts. Mother's day is right around the corner and I found the perfect gift for her and my sister online!

Benjamin Solah said...

Just thought I'd ask what flowers and baskets have to do with May Day.

May Day is a celebration of the international working class started in the United States after strikes for the 8-hour-day.

Laurel Johnson said...

Back in the olden golden days before the working class scheduled strikes or organized themselves into Unions, May Day had a different meaning altogether.

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I enjoy good writing by writers and poets who are not famous. My mother said I was born a hundred years too late. The older I get, the more I realize how right she was.

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