Tuesday, May 1, 2012

What May Day means to me.

When I was a child, I would visit my Grandmother Hazel Grayson often.  As my parents had been divorced and my Mom moved to California, Grandma Hazel stepped up to mother me as much as possible.  We did so many things together that I would consider "womanly".  This woman (then in her 70's/80's) taught me to bake, to enjoy the fruits of such baking efforts, to embrace family, holidays and culture.  Every year she would have me over to bake sizable amounts of Christmas cookies and holiday pies and cakes.  She also had me over for May Day.  And when I would arrive, I would find a small homemade basket (decorated in spring colors of green, pink, purple, light blue and yellow) hanging from something or sitting on the kitchen table waiting for me.

Grandma Hazel would get so excited and happy to see my reaction to this candy filled treat. She would laugh and giggle. This memory still warms me.

As I explored and savored the candies I found inside the basket, she would tell of times throughout her childhood where the neighborhood kids would all get together to celebrate the day.  They would meet at a park or on one of the farms where there would be dancing around a May pole, fun and feasting.  She said that if you were liked by a boy, he would hang a May basket on your door knob, ring the bell or knock on the door and then run away to hide so he could watch you from afar as you came out only to find the spring treat and wonder who left it for you.  She said that this also was something that friends would do for one another as an expression of their friendship.

I never experienced May Day like this with anyone but my Grandmother.  I found it to be a wonderfully warm expression of her love for me and my brother.  And, when my Mom was still living with us in South Dakota, Grandma Hazel would help us create May baskets for her.

Somehow, in my life in California, this tradition has slipped from my grasp.  I have not necessarily passed it on to my own daughter.  I do hope that I remember to pass it on to my Grandchildren.  In the meantime, every single May Day that comes to me reminds me of my Grandmother Hazel's loving kindness.  And that tradition -- of passing on loving kindness -- is what matters to me most.



2 comments:

  1. Aunt Hazel also told me some of those stories when I was growing up. She loved May Day. I don't recall that she ever made a basket for me, but that was probably more because she had much less time in those days. We did, however, make May baskets in school. Was that still being done when you were in school? I relate May Day to Aunt Hazel for the same reasons, although I was never good at passing on those traditions.

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    1. Now I faintly recall that Mrs. McElhany may have had us create May baskets at some point. And, though you didn't have the opportunity to pass along this tradition, you definitely always have and continue to pass along the Orstad/Abbas tradition of loving kindness. There is no question in that.

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