Tuesday, May 1, 2012

~May Day Memories~

2012 May Day Bouquet for Mom and Mary

The small joys and fun of May Day are woven into the story of my childhood but my memories are a bit threadbare. As a youngster, my fistful of lily of the valleys and dandelions placed in a small container brought squeals of delight from my grandmother. I would ring the doorbell and flee while Miss Dolly praised the bouquet, its beauty, and wondered aloud who brought her these lovely flowers. Hit rewind numerous times each year. She repeated this act, with enthusiasm, all day long for each of her grandchildren.
Through the years, the family “May Dayers” dwindled. The older generation slipped away, the boys lacked interest, everyone lived in different places--but my Mom, Dad, and sister all still played May Day with enthusiasm. In college, Mary sent the smallest bouquets she could order through the mail to Kentucky. She did the same for Mom, which reminded us both of Miss Dolly and old traditions celebrated by our family. Three months before Dad died (May Day 2005) he picked a small bouquet of lily of the valleys and gave them to me in one of Mom’s short Waterford vases. He said I could keep the vase too. Mom squealed just like her Mother years before--but this squeal implied “my vase needs to be returned!” Dad winked at me. 
I still have most of the last May Day bouquet from my father
but obviously I didn't get to keep the vase. The little drink
umbrella was added with the dried lily of the valleys the night that
my parents took me out to celebrate my tennis medal in the
Show-Me State Games. It proved to be our last date
as Dad died in his sleep about 10 days later.
To my surprise, a brief search on the history of May Day revealed controversy and conflicting stories of its origin. Some say it is Christian, others pagan. Traditionally, it is celebrated abroad more than in the U.S. and its history goes back before the birth of Christ. Since 1890, it is known as International Workers Day in the UK, originally in the fight for the eight-hour work day. It still serves as a day of protest there, and increasingly, around the globe. Until today, I never considered the current news of the Occupy Movement’s call to not work, shop, or go to school on May 1, 2012, as a May Day activity. 
But, enough! My history of May Day will always be about little fingers picking and arranging flowers to leave on the doorstep, ringing the doorbell, and running into the woods without a worry in the world. 

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