May Basket Day: Memories I Cherish

in hive-114105 •  9 months ago 

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When I heard about the recent mass shooting, in the neighbouring province of Nova Scotia, my mind wondered back to a time when the country seemed more innocent such as the days of the May Basket tradition I remembered as a young teen.

With the showers of April behind us and the awakening of nature into blossoming, the month of May stirs the warm romantic feelings of youth.

In my community this custom of hanging a May basket on someone’s door was a not so subtle way to express romantic interest. The basket hanger would knock after hanging the basket on the outside doorknob and the recipient would give chase and after catching the basket hanger, plant a kiss on the person.

My cousin Bobby messaged me about tomorrow being May 1st and did I remember May 1st and Johnny’s May Basket.

Now that he has brought my memory up to date I will relate the story of a forgotten tradition from my childhood called May Basket Day.

Although there were many folks of Irish and Scottish descent, I’m sure no one in my little village in New Brunswick knew May 1st was the Gaelic festival of Bethane where a bonfire was lit and there was dancing around the Maypole.

May 1 was celebrated in my village in a custom where a basket containing candy, and maybe a flower, was secretly left at the door of someone you fancied or had a secret crush on.

The suitor would come quietly to the door of your home, hang a basket of sweets on the doorknob, knock on the door and ran off. The targeted loved one would chase him down and plant a kiss.

There might be pretty May flowers on the top of the basket but candy would be left underneath the flowers.

My first memory of the May Basket tradition was when I was about thirteen and a knock came to my parents door. I opened it to see a little basket filled with candy hanging on the outside doorknob.

At thirteen I thought boys were icky but loved a good chase and could outrun most of them my age. It was getting on dusk but I saw it was Johnny Atkinson running down the driveway and on the Main Street towards his home.

His father was a good friend of my father. They both worked together as Forest Rangers and Johnny’s father loved to tease me about boys, especially Johnny.

With my trusty German Shepard dog by my side I bolted out the door and down the street after Johnny. He was a good runner and got almost to the door of his home before I caught him in the driveway.

There in the driveway, my dog jumped him...Did I mention Johnny was afraid of dogs?

Now Johnny was on the ground, my dog barked furiously but didn’t bite him. I didn’t know what to do now I had caught him. The fun was in the chase, I certainly didn’t want to kiss him!

It was taken out of my hands - he was lying on his back, yelling loudly and waving his arms in the air to ward off the dog. No way he was interested in a kiss at that moment!

In the darkness a light flashed and Johnny’s father stood smiling in the doorway.

I called off the dog, who was barking in Johnny’s face, turned and high-tailed home, leaving the frightened Johnny without his kiss for the lovely candy he left on my doorknob.

My mother teased me for a long time about Johnny and his father teased him about the whole incident.

My relationship with Johnny...

Johnny I and were good friends during high school. We were never romantically involved but would meet at the school ground on Saturdays and practice the high/broad jump and often went with our fathers to relocate beavers, etc.

Johnny was in the 12 Grade when his father was transferred from our small village to a town. Johnny and the rest of the family went with him. After graduation I moved away and was not anywhere near Johnny to keep contact with him.

By chance I ran into Johnny one summer afternoon. He was with his wife. He patted her stomach and proudly said there was a little bun in the oven. By the look on her face, I don’t think his wife liked that reference!

Years later I was excited to see Johnny at a high school reunion. He was with his wife and acting distant. I never really got a chance to talk with him.

Apparently there were lots of buns in the oven as they had five children. I was disappointed to hear they had divorced and wondered how Johnny was handling the road he was on then.

Sadly the last I heard of Johnny was reading his obituary about five years ago. It seemed unreal as I still see him as the fresh-faced eager young man of my youth.

May my dear friend Johnny R.I.P


Location of story: Canterbury, New Brunswick, Canada

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That's a lovely tradition and I don't know anything similar here ... no, I can't remember anything comparable.

That's a nice story full of memories and I loved to read it, could even see your dog and Johnny's big fearful big eyes 😨
The end was not as expected and not that nice, because I thought of something different, but such is life I think. Maybe you should have kissed Johnny that evening ... imagine how that kiss might have changed your life...


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Thanks so much Johann! 😄 I’m glad you enjoyed the story. Funny how some things from the past always stay with you and this is one such story.

It would have made a good Harlequin romance if the end of the story would have turned out differently but such is life. I think we are where we are suppose to be,

You are right, everything is as it is supposed to be.
You can't go back in time anyway and who knows what might have been. Maybe it would have turned from a Harlequin romance in the beginning to a Horror movie in the end ... 5 children and there might have been even more 😨😱

Haha Johann. I don’t now what shape I would be in after 5 children but it would have been wonderful to have had at least another child. I do contemplate why I’m still here and my son has passed on.
The thought propels me to be the best I can. I don’t always succeed. LOL

I could write this story another way with Johnny and I eventually falling in love, getting married and living happily ever after with our five well behaved children. 🤔Another scenario could be one of him turning from a caring thoughtful lover into an abusive drunken husband who’s carousing drove me to revenge. This would not end well. 🙄

Have a great weekend and be safe! 😊

Oh, I'm so sorry, I completely forgot about your son, but I think you know how I meant it.

Anything could have been possible - after just one kiss that evening your future might have become completely different, but I think you have made a good choice back then 🙂

Not to worry. I know how you meant it.

I kissed a lot of toads after that night and not many turned into a prince. :)

🙂
But a few did turn into a prince, and the best one of them you didn't let go again 😉

Yes, for sure Johann! 😊

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Thanks Pix! ❤️

First time I hear about this beautiful May basket tradition. It is really lovely. Memories is all we will have left from this live, so we might as well live it well and make it worth.

Thanks @lymepoet! It was fun tradition and I’m happy to have memories from that time in my life.

That is just a fun , romantic and sad story all in one i hope you did plant a kiss on his cheek later after scaring him with a dog barking in his face...lol...RIP Johnny 😢

Thanks @bigsambucca. I think the dog scared any romantic notions right out of Johnny’s head. At least I can keep Johnny’s memory alive with the May Basket story. 🐕😊

Am sure it did that poor old Johnny.

Hi @redheadpei, I love the May Day Basket tradition. How lovely to received a basket of flowers with candy from a boy that likes you. So sweet. Your friend Johhny was a lovely friend. We just do not know how long our lives are on this earth.

Hi Angie @angiemitchell. It was a lovely gesture and something that left a lasting impression on me.
Yes we must make the best of every day as we don’t know how long we have on the planet.

Have heard of the May flower pole, never the basket tradition, I must say what a lovely tradition for teenagers.

Our worlds collide and we share special times together, how sad you lost contact, unfortunately this happens with so many childhood friends.

Thanks so much Joan! It is sad to lost contact with friends from the past but it happens so often when in different parts of the country.

Losing contact over the years, we all go separate ways. Every so often someone makes contact, you soon realize much has changed and sit with little or nothing to say, except memories of childhood.

I have a couple friends from childhood that I keep in contact with via phone mostly and our conversation always returns to the past and the people from that time.

Memories is all we will have @redheadpei

For sure @marius19 and we should always try to made good memories. 😊

Such a unique and lovely tradition with these May Baskets. Thanks for
sharing, Joanne :)

Thanks Rob. It make some nice memories from the past. 🙂

The May Baskets sound like a lovely tradition and the photo at top is so pretty! But, what a bittersweet story, and I am sorry for the loss of your childhood friend. 😢

Thanks @thekittygirl. It is sad Johnny passed.😒

Now, that was a story that could begin a book or a movie :) It's a few days later but...wait...

May the Fourth be with you!

Thanks @manoldonchev and for that nice comment. 😊

I loved your story, you do it very well, I fell in love.

Thanks so much @carolinacardoza! 💞

I never heard of the tradition, sound nice.
BTW my husband's name is Johny too. :)

I haven't heard of anyone keeping the tradition alive these days but a cousin of mine says she gives May baskets to her two grandchildren on May 1 to keep the tradition going.
Johnny is a nice name.

This was the first time to hear the story of the May basket, so sweet! Poor Johnny, I could just see him flat on the ground with your dog terrorizing him, 😂 fun childhood memories.

Thanks @birdsinparadise! May basket custom was quite a thing in my childhood days and left me with fond memories. Poor Johnny’s plans didn’t turn out as he expected that May basket evening.

Nice tribute to a friend. Your story certainly didn't go where I'd thought.

We had the same Mayday tradition as you in our little German town. I remember a basket I made in the second grade. I put it on the front door of our house, knocked and ran in the back. My Mother was adequately mystified about where it came from...

Let the record show that no girl ever chased me down. And I was painfully slow. Might just say something about me...

I tip my hat to Johnny. Long as you remember him he's really gone, is he?

Thanks Tom! You have a cute story of your own about putting the May basket on your own door. I’m sure you had a lot of chases since then. 😀

Yes, as long as we have our stories, people are never really gone.

There are always so many what-ifs from paths not chosen. This May 1 tradition sounds a little like Valentine's Day here, without the chasing down the boy for the kiss, lol.

Hi @blueeyes8960! Yes the path not taken is always wondered about. Valentine’s Day seems a bit easier with just eating the candies and not having to make a run for it. 😄❤️

What an interesting tradition @redheadpei - never heard of the May Basket before! ((:

And...RIP Johnny...

Thanks @joeylim. There were some interesting customs back in the day. 🙃

Aw, what a sad ending to the story. Poor Johnny and all his children. I'm sure they miss him.

That said, I love the story and you and the doggie chasing him down. Serves him right for knocking and running! 😂

I'm happy you loved the story. It is too bad Johnny passed. He had a large family for these times and I'm sure they miss him a lot.

It's my very first time hearing about this tradition. Sounds like a cool thing to do..
Those memories shall always be cherished
Rest in Peace Johnny

Have a great day and Stay safe always!

Yes, the old traditions live on as long as we tell the stories. I hope Johnny is at peace now.

Have a wonderful week ahead and stay safe, sane and well in these uncertain times of the virus pandemic.

Oh my, @redheadpei, this beautiful and sad story made me cry. It's such a panoramic view of a life, from that blushing youthfulness through adulthood and on to Whatever is next. It's kind of heartbreaking to view a life through that lens, with the daily joys and pains left out so that we see only the snapshots along the way. And yet it is also such a wake-up call to be present and to live life fully and to make this life count. I hope in spite of his failed marriage that Johnny found happiness and that his children will carry forward the best of what he brought to this world.

I love the history of the May basket. It's a sweet tradition. Ours was kind of similar, but we placed the baskets on the doors of elderly people and those who needed cheering up. I don't remember that there was a romantic side to it. But my childhood was quite a long time ago, so perhaps there was!

It is a bittersweet story Jayna but I felt it was necessary to tell how Johnny and I took different paths since that May Basket evening.

From those innocent days of childhood to our last breath, so much happens in between. Yes, it is a wake up call to love and cherish the present time and make this life count.

A lovely and kind idea to put the basket on the doors of the elderly and those who needed cheering up. Speaking of elderly, one could be placed on my door too. 😊

That was a bitter sweet post! Loved hearing about the May basket tradition. ❤️

Thanks @felt.buzz! I’m happy you loved hearing about the tradition. 😊

I had not heard of this tradition.
That was cool
Sad story, that of Johnny. I think that all of us have similar ones. Time passes and with it all kinds of unexpected things to people we once thought would be inmortal and ever present

Thanks @hlezama! Yes, it’s unfortunate what happened with Johnny and not something I expected.

It's at this point...

"With my trusty German Shepard dog by my side I bolted out the door and down the street after Johnny. He was a good runner and got almost to the door of his home before I caught him in the driveway."

... that I knew wasn't reading a cute teen romance story. I've never laughed so hard and loud. Poor Johnny.

Haha @deadsparrow! It really is funny looking back now. Happy to give you a good laugh. 😊

That sounds like it was a fun tradition! Poor Johnny... he worked hard for that kiss and just got dog slobber instead. lol!! That is a great story.

Thanks @derekrichardson. It was a fun traditional but didn’t always turn out like the basket-hanger thought it would. 😊

Nice post, it is a pity that some nice traditions are lost over time.

Thanks! Yes, things change fast.

Hello @redheadpei

In my country, the month of May is known as the month of flowers, I don't remember a tradition like the one you tell. Your anecdote evokes the feeling of what could have been and was not always with us.

Thanks for sharing.

Welcome @janaveda. May seems to be a special month with the flowers blooming and many birds returning and singing sweetly in the mornings.

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