May 3, 2012

Trick Or Treat – In Reverse

A neighbor greets Friends' School students on May Day

On Tuesday of this week, our students celebrated May Day in the school’s time-honored tradition of creating and delivering May Day baskets. 

When I was a young’un back in England, we celebrated May Day on the village green with Morris dancing, a community-wide picnic, and dancing around the Maypole.  I have since learned of the American tradition, begun by early settlers, of filling small baskets with flowers and leaving them on someone’s doorstep.

At Friends' School we take our May Day tradition very seriously.  It is important to us to show our gratitude to our neighbors in the Eisenhower residential neighborhood.  Every year our students look forward to making beautiful baskets (we improvise a little with paper bags), filling them with flowers and bringing them to our neighborly friends. 

If you were out walking your dog on the streets around school on Tuesday, you would have come across our buddy classes holding hands, some skipping along the sidewalk, with baskets in hand.  Tuesday was another gorgeous sunny day in Boulder, with flowers blooming, bees buzzing, and the smell of freshly mowed grass in the air.  Pairs of children wandered up garden paths, bringing a basket to someone’s door, fervently hoping that the neighbor was home.  Our kids love to engage with other people and they couldn’t wait to bring a smile to our neighbors’ faces.

I talked to one of the residents who has lived near the school for almost 20 years.  She told me how much she looks forward to getting a May Day basket and how each year she plants the annuals in her front flowerbed.  All summer long she thinks of the children from Friends’ who brought it to her.

Preschool and 1st grade buddies getting ready to deliver
On May 2nd, Wednesday, Ann Reid, at our front desk, welcomed a visitor to our school, an elderly lady who walked over to school with her walker to deliver a hand-written thank you note to the children.  Another neighbor was so surprised to find children on her doorstep, she told 5th grade teacher Liz Richards, “I didn’t know people still did this.  I haven’t seen a May Day basket delivered since I was a kid!”

One thing I also discovered in my own personal mini-AOE research project on May Day is that traditionally the giver of a basket rings a doorbell, leaves the basket, and runs away.  The person receiving the basket tries to run after and catch the fleeing giver.  If the giver is caught, a kiss is exchanged.  While I believe none of our students perpetuated that tradition this year, it was fun to hear one of our preschoolers claim, “This is just like trick or treating, only in reverse.”

And it is.  We are very grateful for our neighbors for co-existing with us in our little corner of Boulder.  Thank you to Kathy Sherwood and Dacia Horn for bringing together everything we needed. We are also grateful that our students are learning to give without expecting anything in return, not even a kiss!

1 comment:

Carol Hoeffler said...

I love the Friends' School May Day tradition for all the reasons you've so beautifully described, plus one more. Two years ago, Allison (still in preschool) rang a doorbell to deliver May Day flowers. To her surprise, the door was opened and the flowers accepted by someone she recognized. Her words: "Mom, do you remember how that teenager was driving too fast in the parking lot of Chipotle and hit Daddy's car and then he didn't even say sorry?" Me: "Yes." Allison: "He's our neighbor. I gave him flowers today."