Donna Louise here constructing May baskets in the early a.m. to deliver tomorrow morning to my neighbors in the ‘hood. May baskets are a lost American art form. Mama taught me to make them when I was a child.

The evening prior to May Day, I’d sit at the kitchen table surrounded by construction paper in spring colors, a jar of white paste (like we ate in grade school), round-nosed scissors, and my big, fat, red lead pencil.

Rolling May Baskets 101:

Take a piece of construction paper and roll it into a cone. If you roll it the long way, you get a long, slender cone; the short way gives you a fatter cone. Slender ones are better because they don’t require as many flowers to fill them. (Make sure you check your flower supply before you roll baskets.)

Spread paste or glues on the overlapping part and hold it until it sticks together.

Make as many baskets as you need.

Cut strips from matching or contrasting colored construction paper to make handles and glue those to the cones.

Thanks go to the creator of markers, you don’t need to smash your basket to write your greeting and name on them. When I was little, mine looked like someone had sat on them because I had to use the lead pencil and press hard.

Fill them with flowers, but not until you’re ready to deliver them. The flowers die really fast so don’t pick them until the morning of. Dead flowers have a negative meaning to most people.

Mama would go out in the yard in the early morning and pick irises, peonies and lilacs. We placed them in the baskets. (Sounds a little Walton-ish, doesn’t it? But it was true.) 

Then you go out and hang them on door handles, knock or ring the bell and run.

Mama and I would make it home in time to answer the calls telling me what a thoughtful girl I was. We didn’t have cell phones back then so I’m not quite sure how that works, but I’ll find out tomorrow.

In a world of increasing alienation and isolation, May baskets could help people reestablish contact with their neighbors. Nothing says “Love” like flowers (maybe diamonds say “love” too).

Tomorrow I’ll be out before dawn delivering baskets. I’ll wait for the calls from appreciative neighbors.

Donna Louise here doing her part to make the world a better and happier place.

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