Spring brings promise and the month of May is the epitome of hope and renewal. May is such a busy month. Temperatures warming, the sun rising earlier and setting later each day, helping to awaken our spirits. It’s about celebrating the little things from the birds returning to sing their songs, the blooming of tulips, lilacs, and peonies as well as the sound of children outside playing and much more…
I decided to take a closer look at one of my favorite months. Join me +and see if you have similar memories to share!
May Basket Day. The first “holiday,” and one of my favorite memories of May, is May Basket Day. In the NPR article, Forgotten Tradition: May Basket Day, Linton Weeks gives the description of the holiday as, “The curious custom — still practiced in discrete pockets of the country — went something like this: As the month of April rolled to an end, people would begin gathering flowers and candies and other goodies to put in May baskets to hang on the doors of friends, neighbors and loved ones on May 1.”
In grade school, I loved making little May baskets. Using Styrofoam cups or construction paper that we decorated, stapled into a square or cone, and adding a handle made from a colorful pipe cleaner, the baskets were ready for filling with popcorn and candy.
A lighthearted activity to make something to give away in celebration of Spring. It was exciting to take the May baskets home, show Mom and before leaving them on neighbor’s doorsteps. Part of the fun was ringing the doorbell and scurrying away before the neighbor(s) could answer the door. Memories of innocence. Had I to do it again, I would dutifully let Mom keep them. Hindsight is 20/20.
Mother’s Day. May Basket Day feels like a warm up for Mother’s Day. A weekend devoted to showing our love for our mothers, grandmothers and the other ladies in our lives who are nurturing forces, giving us guidance and love.
Mitch Albom, For One More Day, is quoted as saying, “But there’s a story behind everything. How a picture got on a wall. How a scar got on your face. Sometimes the stories are simple, and sometimes they are hard and heartbreaking. But behind all your stories is always your mother’s story because hers is where yours begin.”
Mothers are the crux where children learn to love (of others and of self), patience and sacrifice. Mothers nurture every breath from conception, soothe the aches and do their best to relieve troubled minds. They remember every detail, noting our nuances and yet having the fortitude to release us when they want to keep holding on.
Many celebrate the love of their mother’s routinely, not resorting to the specified Sunday in May. As it should be. Imagining this world without their nurturing, unconditional love, would take away one of the greatest beauty this world has known.
Spring Recitals. Another recurring set of events in May is recitals. After months of practice and rehearsals, the culmination of talents, all of which leading to Spring recitals. From dancing to a band, orchestra, or chorus there are numerous recitals that find their way on calendars. It is gratifying to see the showcase of talent, improvement, and dedication of those involved in extra-curricular activities. (There are also the spring awards banquets for academic, musical and sporting achievements).
For me, it meant dance recitals. Fourteen years worth. Dance recitals filled with jazz, tap, ballet, and the ever painful, toe dancing. (I attribute many foot issues to the placing all my weight essentially on my 2 big toes)(Whoever thought that was a good idea anyway?!) *Shudder
The recitals often fell on Mother’s Day weekend with a long day of rehearsal the day before making for a busy weekend. Girls of all ages clad in spandex, tutus, tights and hats; heavily made up like porcelain dolls, hair frozen in place with spray and lots of hushed chatter. (See —>)
School Year Ending/Graduation. An even more exciting aspect of May is when kids and teachers alike, begin counting down the last days of the school year. Kids start bouncing off the walls, in anticipation of summer, while teachers pull double duty in not only teaching lessons but keeping kids on task.
A couple of years ago, while I was waiting to pick up my nephew on his last day of elementary school, the same school his father and I attended, a wave of nostalgia washed over me while. Standing on the playground of my youth and his, goosebumps began spreading down my arms. Why? I heard the kids counting down the last seconds of school.
I have always loved having the summer to spend with my nephew, but knowing he was growing so fast and leaving elementary school behind, was tough for this auntie. Thanks to my smartphone, I have a recording of the countdown as well as him and the other kids walking out of elementary school and onto the next chapter.
Finally, for high school seniors, graduation is soon approaching. Plans are being made for not just graduation parties, but also for the next big adventures in their lives. Whether college life is on the horizon, or the hunt for a more dependable job, it marks the ending of childhood, with its predictability, and onto an open-ended journey into the adulthood.
Vacation Planning. With school being out, many begin finalizing summer vacation planning in May. Many save vacation time in order to schedule a getaway. Who doesn’t want to get away for a while?
Growing up, my family along with Papa (paternal grandpa) would drive up to Lac de Melac, Ontario for our summer vacation. The week-long fishing trip was centered around Father’s Day as well as the hobbies of my grandpa, dad, and brother. (Mom and I were essentially along for the ride).
It was a 12-hour drive to the mid-sized fishing resort, Pine Point Resort. (12 hours is a long day in the car for anyone, but when you are a kid, 12 hours is the equivalent of 24 hours or something like that). I am glad my family had such vacations together. The fact that it was an “unplugged” vacation (no phone, no TV and the only radio station that came in were in French) meant there was a LOT of bonding time.
During the past four years, the beginning of summer means I return home for several weeks to be with family. When I am back home, I find myself enjoying the beauty of summer in the Midwest, family, dear friends, the nearby lake, wide open spaces and tree-lined streets. (I just started singing, “My Favorite Things,” with the same zeal as Julie Andrews).
Yes, it’s true. I am thoroughly in love with Midwest summers. Summers mean coming home, which will always feel good to me. It begins on Memorial Day Weekend, the next event in May.
Memorial Day Weekend. The three-day weekend in May that is the unofficial kick off to the beginning of summer. “Unofficial” because although many do enjoy having the extra time off, the day’s significance much greater than barbecues, boating and swimming at the nearby lake, or campfires to sit around after a peaceful day of rest and relaxation.
As explained by History.com, “Memorial Day, an American holiday observed on the last Monday of May, honors both men and women who died while serving in the U.S. military. Originally known as Decoration Day, it originated in the years following the Civil War and became an official federal holiday in 1971. Many Americans observe Memorial Day by visiting cemeteries or memorials, holding family gatherings and participating in parades. Unofficially, at least, it marks the beginning of summer.”
As noted in other Sweetsnsnarks blog posts, such as Winter Memories of Home, I grew up spending a lot of time with my both sets of grandparents. My grandparents and their generation, having lived through the Great Depression and WWII, were known as The Greatest Generation, as coined by Tom Brokaw, in his book of the same name.
That generation had first-hand knowledge of the sacrifice and loss of war. The men of that time were drafted, along with family and friends, to begin fighting for the freedom we enjoy to this day. It was important to my grandparents to remember those who made the greatest sacrifice in the line of duty, as well as others who served and were fortunate enough to return home. My grandma was steadfast in placing flowers on the graves of family members, as well as dear friends who had passed, whether they were in military conflict or not.
Often I would happen to stop over at Papa and Grandma’s house as they were lining up various containers, empty coffee cans wrapped in aluminum foil, (being frugal was no joke to those who lived through the Great Depression) along with a couple of gallons of water to weigh the containers. They also gathered artificial flowers left over from previous years and fresh peonies or tulips from their lawns, to take to six different cemeteries in surrounding counties. It was important to them to remember those they dearly loved.
Memorial Day hit close to home for me when my grandfather’s passed away, both during the month of May. My maternal grandpa passed away nearly 20 years ago now, on May 15th. He was my first grandparent to leave this earth.
In retrospect, he was young, 75, but when you are young yourself, relativity doesn’t come into play. (My dad just recently turned 76. That quickly puts things into perspective). My grandpa served in the Army during WWII, in Okinawa, Japan. Like many soldiers who return home from the horrors of war, Grandpa rarely spoke of his experiences in the theater. While I would have loved hearing his stories, I had the utmost respect for his years of service.
My paternal grandfather passed away 12 years ago on May 23. My grandma and I began decorating his grave site without a second thought. Paying our respects, especially just a few days after his passing, had an even more profound meaning. Suddenly, I had the zeal Grandma always had to make sure the family graves was adorned. It was a way to remember and begin healing from his loss. As we could no longer touch, see, or hear him, it was compelling to show our love the only way we could. It was marked the first year Grandma and I began carrying out her tradition of decorating the grave sites of those she loved. 15 in all.
I clearly remember Grandma saying, while at the small cemetery where part of her family rested, as she began fussing with the containers and flowers, “Now we have to put some real and artificial flowers on this grave. Make sure it looks real nice because Grandma was a good Grandma.”
Grandma’s emotionally charged words made a direct hit to my heart. It was a moment reminding me that one day I would be saying the same thing as I adorned her grave. Moments when you foresee the future, one without a loved one whom you are close, is especially heartbreaking. Not only could I feel her loss of her grandmother from decades before, wishing there was something I could do to heal the pain, but inherently I began feeling my own pain for when I would one day lose her. *Big gulp.
Birthdays. Shifting to a much happier note, the month of May marks my late Papa’s birthday as well as my own.
May 9th will always be a special day as that was Papa’s birthday and I am also a May baby. Our family used to celebrate our birthdays together. I showcase the photo to the right as it illustrates perfectly how gentle and loving he was.
Papa was mild-mannered, content and self-spoken. His eyes sparkled whenever our gaze met. He readily put others at ease and I will remember always feeling special after spending time with him. He was one of the first gentlemen I ever knew and loved.
Goals. The final aspect of May is goal setting especially with it feeling like the kickoff of summer. What are my goals? I am looking to write more blog posts focusing on the simple, pleasures of summer. Practicing mindfulness to make the most out of every day, to bring focus and intention.
I am also looking into interviewing creative entrepreneurs to share not only their work but their influences professionally and personally, their passions and biggest life lessons. I will be continuing to search for virtual internship positions with creative entrepreneurs, as I find the work interesting and the people passionate.
The final goal is to spend quality time with those I love. It’s as simple as that.
The Month of May is a busy month with various holidays, events and plans. It marks what feels a new beginning with the weather becoming more climatic for the majority of the U.S. Here in Tucson, it is the beginning of the months that just about do me in. (To read more about that ordeal, check out this blog post. It’s good for a laugh!) However, the warm months afford me the chance to spend time with my family in all the old familiar places… (Are those last few words from another song?).
Remember to enjoy the final days of May anyway you can. Be present – Walking Boldly along the way. What are your plans for the end of May and the kick off to summer? Share what stories you would like to read on Sweetsnsnarks.