Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Hardcore May Day

May Day in Nebraska is no joke. May Day in Nebraska is serious business. Our first year here it hadn't registered in my mind that it was the first of May. Why would it? And why, I wondered, did my doorbell keep ringing? And why were there goody-bags on my porch but no people?

To be honest, that first year, when we hardly knew anyone and Phoebe was almost three and Moses 18 months, the doorbell rang twice. I remember the Carrs and the Vonderfechts bringing us May Baskets. But this year...I wish I had my camera (but it's in St. Louis with Paul). It looks like Halloween.

After school as we were playing in the backyard four friends approached with May baskets. Of course we made the ring-and-run aspect of this difficult as we were in plain sight in the backyard. Twice folks walked up and handed us treats and two sets (one for each kid) were stealthily left on the porch. We spent the evening at the Steinauers house and when we returned our little porch was full--probably five May Baskets for each kid.

Most of the May Baskets were not baskets at all, but Styrofoam cups with pipe cleaner handles adorned with stickers and full of candy or trail mix. There were a couple sets of construction paper tulips that served as stapled-on wrapping for Blow Pops. About half of the May Baskets had a "To:" and "From:" on them and half were anonymous.

I love the anonymity. That seems like the whole point, doesn't it? I mean, why ring-and-run if the recipient is going to know who it is from anyway?

For our May Baskets we bought three grocery store fresh flower bouquets. Each kid got a bouquet, three mason jars and scissors to cut the stems and rearrange the big bouquet into three small bouquets. Florists they are not, but they had fun and who can resist shasta daisies and gerber daisies regardless of their arrangement?

We took two to the kids next door; one to Becky, who teaches Phoebe piano, leads the kids' choir at church and is subbing for their music teacher at school this month; three to the Vonderfecht kids; and three to the Steinauer kids. By the time we were done I had waters sloshed out of the jars and all over the floor of my van and a daughter who was a wreck.

Phoebe got totally freaked out by the sneaking up to the door. This happens every year. She just gets so worked up--the nervous anticipation kills her. It almost makes it no fun. What if they see her? What if she is sneaking and she is surprised? By the time we got to our last house she couldn't take it anymore. She said, and I quote word for word, "I want no part of this. I wish none of you would do this, but if you do it anyway....I want no part."

Paul said, "tell her to remember that on prom night."

But back to May Day. I have vague memories of weaving construction paper baskets or cones filled with daffodils at school when I was little. I know one time I took one of these to my next door neighbor, Mrs. Freber. But that was the extent of my May Day participation. I don't know why this tradition, that I always thought of as old-timey, like something Laura & Mary Ingalls or Anne Shirely would do, has kept hold here in Nebraska, but I find it very charming. And every year it's a surprise to me. I just don't remember what a big deal May Day is until suddenly my doorbell is ringing and there are treats on my porch.

1 comment:

Susan said...

That sounds awesome! Nebraska could advertise that as a reason to move there. "We're so wholesome, we celebrate May Day."

Maybe Ben and Paul are taking pictures of each other in St. Louis. I sent Ben with the camera, too, and instructions to photograph the old 'hood. He said Talayna's is now Kayak Coffee? Oh my.