Friday, May 1, 2009

May Day

Sometime I forget what I've written on here and I have to do a search on my own blog! Does anyone else ever have to do that? I've started noticing that there are some really big things that I've never written about and then inane facts that I've devoted two or three posts to- weird.

Getting to the point now, when I was eight years old, we moved from Richmond, VA to Rochester, MN. My dad was accepted as a year long Fellow at the Mayo Clinic (he got to meet Ronald Reagan when he had his famous brain surgery there). After completion of the program he would then be a practicing neurologist. My parents decided since it was only a year, and separation of the family wasn't an option, to rent our house out to a family member while we moved to Minnesota.

It wasn't one of those sad and tragic moves, because I knew all along we would be coming back to the same town and the same house, but it was the first time I had ever been away from my MeMa and PaPa, so I was a little down in the dumps. I loved living in Minnesota and it's one of the happiest times of my life. It was so different than Virginia, and not just the weather. It was flat as could be, where Virginia was very hilly, there were sidewalks everywhere, a park right across the street from my house, and it stayed light out until 10pm (in the summer). Fun Fact: Rochester has 100 parks in 40 sq/miles- roughly 3.1 parks per sq/mile!

Minnesota was also very different socio-politically speaking as well. They were light years ahead of Virginia in terms of environmental preservation. It was also the first time I learned that not everyone voted for George Bush, the first one. There were also many more programs for children, like cooking, sewing, arts and crafts, jewelry making, music, eco-adventures, and theater. It was just much more of a communal, out doorsy place- kids only stayed inside and at home if they were sick.

Me. The Mississippi. Minnesota.

They were also very celebratory of holidays that had nothing to do with Christianity- like Halloween, the Winter Solstice, Earth Day, and May Day. Of course I had heard of May Day, it was the first of May, and to some semi-strict southerners- the first day you are allowed to wear the color white from the waist down.** But in Minnesota they made a very big deal about it, learning all the history and lore of it (the 2nd grade version) during school. The fun part came next!

Old timey celebration of May Day!
I had just gotten home from school, and during the next hour our door bell was rung about 10-15 times. Each time I went to answer the door no one would be there, but on the stoop would be a present! Some were little flowers in cups, baked goods, candy, and baskets filled with fun things like ribbons, flower seeds, and pretty garden rocks. It was so exciting and something that we just didn't do in Virginia.

An example of one that is cute and simple. But they can be very elaborate and ornate as well.
Of course I wanted to participate in this fun activity of leaving presents on my neighbors porches, ringing the doorbell, and then running to hide! It seemed that half the fun was in not getting caught, which happened when spying little eyes would peek out of the curtains to wait for the next goody bag. Unfortunately for me, my mom and I weren't at all prepared for this, and we didn't have any of the typical "gifts" that people gave on May Day.

I was not about to let this deter me, and I went about making gifts and putting them in brown paper lunch bags. I could see the look of slight horror on my mom's face, as she watched me put things like dandelions, left over Easter candy, rocks from underneath the deck, pens, pencils, and balloons into my bags. But she didn't say anything as I created the worlds most ugly and useless hodgepodge (if that) May Day gift bags.

I didn't have a lot of time to collect my treasures and assemble them, but I worked quickly and soon had 7 bags. I then ran out of the house, skulking down the sidewalk so that I could "drop and dash" my presents without getting caught. Unfortunately, when I started, most kids were finishing up and they were already gathered outside showing off and playing with their new treats. It was then that I learned that my bags were not up to snuff, when I got caught by my best friend and she was like "um, thanks?"

I decided my bags were just too special to be given out to my friends, they didn't "get them." So I went about putting them on the stoops of the older neighbors (the ones who I thought probably didn't get any baskets and the ones who had no children. This proved to be A LOT harder than I thought, everyone except two couples on my street (that's where I was allowed to go) had kids that I knew.

Now I guess you'd have to be in my brain to understand why I did what I did next. Can you guess?

Yes, I left multiple, ugly, brown paper May Day bags filled with junk on their doorsteps. But it gets worse! I know what you're thinking "how could that possibly be?" In my infinite, eight year old wisdom, I decided that I would ring the door bell after I put each individual bag on their porch,

out their fun! I didn't even go back and forth between the two houses to space it out. I put one bag on the stairs, rang the bell, and then hid by the side of the house. When the elderly lady toddled to the door and picked up her treats, I would wait about 30 more seconds after she shut the door before I left another one and rang the bell all over again.

I did this three times.
To two different houses.

Looking back I know they were probably thinking it was some teenager pranking them by leaving them crap and then ringing their doorbell over and over again. I didn't even try to disguise the fact that all of them were from me! When I think about it, even today, my face turns a lovely crimson color. But on May 1, 1990, I was completely oblivious to any embarrassment, and I thought it was the greatest day!

The following May, when we were back in Virginia, I tried telling all of my friends about making baskets and leaving them on doorsteps for your neighbors, but they all thought I was crazy. I didn't care, I was prepared, and I made fairly cute (for a 9yr old) bags. I only made a few because my mom didn't think people would get it here in VA. And she was correct.

After leaving my first basket on my neighbor's porch, I ran back home to get the next one. In that one minute interval, the neighbor had already telephoned my mom, asking her if I was the rude kid who rang her door bell and left. My mother told her that I was, but I had left something for her on her stoop, which she apparently hadn't seen. Well, that didn't matter to her, it was very rude and disrespectful to ring a door bell and then run away.

After a quick, but futile, attempt to explain May Day to my neighbor, I ended up apologizing and that put an end to my celebration. SAD.

But I never forgot that May Day and I think about it each time the calendar rolls around to the end of April. I also still get really mad when I think about my mean neighbor who killed my dreams of bringing May Baskets to Richmond, Virginia (as I phrased it when I was nine)

Ahh, youth.

So do any of you celebrate the first of May with goody bags for neighbors or did when you were a child? I think it's such a nice festivity that doesn't get a lot of attention. Maybe that will be my next (really first) entrepreneurial move, making and selling May Baskets for the world! (I'm only have kidding)

**Not strict on wearing white from the waist down- Easter, semi-strict- May Day, very strict- Memorial Day. But there's a hard line drawn in the sand that white ends on Labor Day. "Winter White" is not allowed by the very strict at all, only during the Holiday season for the semi-strict, and from the day after Thanksgiving until the end of February for the not strict.

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Hayley said...

I have never heard of the drop and dash thing before! It sounds like fun!

When my stepsisters were little, maybe 8 and 6, they dressed up in their Halloween costumes, got out their Easter baskets, and went trick-or-treating on the 4th of July. My stepdad was so embarrassed... but surprised too. They actually got stuff. Fruit, crackers, whatever people had. He loves to tell that story. But back then it was a super small town where everyone knew everyone else, now- not so much. I'm sure now people would react like your pissy neighbor.

It'll be fun to see what shenanigans Spencer gets into...

John & Michelle said...

When I was 7 or 8, I rode the church bus to a local church with some nieghborhood kids (grew up just outside of Detroit). The Sunday School teacher sent a note home to mom about a special tree trimming service where the kids would get to hang the ornament we made the Sunday before on this huge tree! I took it upon myself to make more UGLY ornaments at home and take them to that service. WHY did mom not tell me she wanted them for our tree at home and save me the HUGE EMBARRASMENT of dropping them to the floor in front of everyone.

To answer your question on my last post...don't know when we'll be getting a baby? We have been waiting for China officially for 26 months with 9 months of paperchasing before that. And last May 7th our birthmom had a baby girl and changed her mind on the 8th...needless to say Mother's Day sucks

Have a great weekend,
Michelle (TN)

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