It’s a tradition I grew up with here in rural Kansas.
My mother and I would make cone-paper baskets and fill them with fresh-cut flowers from around our home, as well as homemade cookies. I’d creep up to the neighbors’ doors in my hometown of Gypsum, ring the bell and hide, thinking they surely couldn’t fathom that it was the little, brown-haired, four-eyed girl from next door who had left them a gift each May 1.
However, in my quest to find people who still celebrate something I remembered so fondly was difficult at first. Only two others in our newsroom had ever heard of knocking and running. I called a few schools whose secretaries reminisced about their own May Day basket-giving experiences, but they didn’t know of anyone who still made baskets.
But as I began to research the day, others with the same happy memories began to emerge.
Karen Madorin, a Logan resident who has a show on High Plains Public Radio and a blog at hppr.com, said she still delivers May baskets.
“We always though we were so sneaky, but we’d hear an older person call, “Thank you Karen or Thanks Kent,” she recalled of her childhood. “We’d giggle like crazy, knowing our target had caught us.”
I have those same memories, which is why I’m trying to revive the tradition of May Day.
On Monday, I helped my 6-year-old twin girls, Brett and Kaci, and my 1-year-old Jordie make May Baskets out of construction paper. With the cold April, there are no flowers blooming in my yard, but we baked cookies and the girls filled the cone-shaped baskets with candy.
On Tuesday, we began the tradition of knocking and running although the girls weren’t too sneaky. They squealed as they ran from each doorstep – sprinting just far enough away so they could see each neighbor receive his or her gift.
As I watched my girls, the event reiterated something Madorin told me in our phone interview. Put the history of the day aside. It doesn’t matter if May Day has a lengthy Paganism tradition or that it has strong political meaning centered on workers rights in some countries. May Day is about giving. It’s about showing friendship. It is about doing something because you want to and not expecting anything in return.
But as we walked home from our first day of May Day basket giving, one of our neighbors walked out of her home with her own homemade basket. She gave it to the girls as a thank you for their generosity. She recalled her own May Day experiences and those of her children.
That is the reason for the season. Maybe it’s not Doomsday for May Day.
To read more of Bick’s meanderings, visit Tales From The Crib