May Day


May Day

I tend to be a bit of a sentimental fool sometimes.

May 1st is one of those times.

When I was little, we lived inside the city limits of my hometown.  Years later we would move a couple miles out, which was amazing in its own right.

But I still remember some of the things from when I was small and lived in a home not far from my grandparents.

My Grandma had a tradition on May 1st – May Day.  It may have been a silly or made-up thing she did for us. It may very well have been something her extended Irish family did when she was a kid.  I never knew and wasn’t savvy enough at the ages 4-8 to ask.

My Grandma would take a little cup, be it styrofoam or a paper or a bigger container or whatever and she’d decorate it.  She’d take pipe cleaners of varying colors and weave it along the top. curving, making the little cups, generally made for drinks, into May baskets.  Often she’d make treats and mix in small candy or anything else she could think of and pack them into a little box.  She’d take the box, put it in the rear of her Buick that she drove and visit the cousins, whose houses were closest . . . and then come to our house.

She liked to play games and taunt us, my grandma, int the most fun and sincere way. She’d put the cups on the front stoop (having called my mother in advance, I am sure) and then ring the doorbell.

Grandma’s game was that after she rang the doorbell she’d pretend to run away. Her tradition was that we had to catch her and give her a kiss.  “That’s the rule.  You can’t break a May Day rule!” she’d tell us in feigned sincerity.

It never failed.

We’d see her bending down to place the cups and we’d race out the front door, giggling, and chase her down the sidewalk.  She never really ever got past the black lamp post on the front yard and we’d grab her leg, as we probably only got about halfway up her leg in height at that point anyway.

“You have to give me a kiss,” she’d always tell us.  We, of course, would oblige.  After all, you can’t break a May Day rule.

My grandma wasn’t able to drive much after that.  Macular degeneration took a good portion of her eyesight and legally she just couldn’t drive.

But she never forgot May Day.  She still delivered them.  She would later tell us “you have to do this, give them to pretty girls you like and then run from them until they catch and kiss you!”
“Ewwww!” is what we likely responded.

Years later, though, as girls held more sway than games I remembered my grandma’s tradition. I gave dates May baskets. None really knew the tradition, which was no surprise. Even fewer actually saw how sweet it was. Those dates and relationships…they never panned out to much.

I have kept it up here and there.  I haven’t made the baskets, but I tended to give cookies or treats or bake for my loved ones and friends on May Day.  I got cookies for friends for May 1st this year.

Few understood the tradition but all accepted the treats.

In the end, maybe my Grandma was right.  It very well may not be the tradition itself.  It might just be knowing when to slow down and let the right person catch you.

After all . . . you cannot break a May Day rule.

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