A little nostalgia today. May Day was my Grandma Bessie’s holiday. And she only shared it with me. It was our special tradition. Bessie had a lot of special traditions I remember fondly. The iridescent red candy dish filled with cold M&M’s for each of us around the kitchen table while the adults talked for hours after dinner in the living room, the mirrored vanity with drawers full of clip-on ear rings and beaded necklaces for trying on and admiring and the annual summer day trip downtown which included a bus ride, a movie and a treat at Brown’s Department Store lunch counter. But May Day was reserved for just me. (First grand child does have it’s benefits.)
Early in the day I was dropped off at Bessie’s house and it was just the two of us. We were on a secret mission each May Day to assemble several simple baskets made of construction paper and tape, fill them with the spring flowers, honeysuckle and dandelions from the yard and then secretly hang these baskets on her neighbors door knobs as an anonymous celebration of spring, neighbors and friendship. Looking back those baskets were nothing more than a sheet of construction paper folded in half and taped down the side. A simple handle was attached from a strip of ribbon. A child’s scribbled message and simple drawings of flowers and sun rays decorated the basket. And the flowers were just a handful of bright yellow weeds, nothing fancy. But the real fun came as we hand in hand quietly made our way to the neighbors door. Whispering so our identity would be kept secret we left our baskets and hurried home, laughing and wondering if they would find them soon. Later in the day Bessie’s neighbors would come by for a visit mentioning they had found such a wonderful surprise on their door, a little May Day Basket. Bessie would get out that beautiful red iridescent candy dish, fill it full of cold M&M’s and settle me at the kitchen table with that small treat while she made a pot of coffee and spent time with her friend, her neighbor, our secret mission.
Looking back this May Day on my Grandma Bessie’s tradition I see she was teaching me much more than how to construct a paper basket. She was teaching me how to love my neighbors.