Yesterday I was reminded of a day in May many years ago that made me smile. It was May 1st and it must have fallen on a Saturday that particular year. My mother was telling my sister and I about a May Day tradition from her own youth that fascinated me. She told us that when she was young the children would collect fresh spring flowers and put them into little handmade posies, then go to a neighbor's house, hang them on the door, and ring the bell before they ran to hide and watch the delight on the face of the person answering the door.
Of course we had to try it. So we went to the house next door - it belonged to a family member so we thought of it as an extension of our own yard really - and we picked some of the beautiful wild violets that were growing in abundance under the trees there. We brought them home and Mom had managed to come up with a pretty lace doily and some lavender ribbon. She showed us how to shape the doily into a cone and attache the ribbon along with a tag that we wrote "Happy May Day" on, and we filled it with our stash of tiny flowers and headed back outside with our beautiful bouquet. Then we crossed Montauk Highway ( imagine letting your children ages 7 and 6 do that today!) and walked to the home of my first grade teacher from the year before, Mrs. Clark. There we sneaked up to the front door, rang the doorbell, and quickly ran for cover behind her hedges. Just as my mother had promised when Mrs. Clark opened the door and discovered the gift she smiled, probably at her own childhood memory so much like my Mom's.
It was a very small gesture, something fun to do on a day off in the beautiful month of May, and it was greeted with just the right amount of enthusiasm. And for me it was also a lesson in graciousness. Because I learned that day that it doesn't take lots money or fancy possessions to delight somebody special - all it takes is a little love and creativity. And that's something we all have to give.
Maybe some day someone will leave a May Day nosegay on my door.