Hanging May Baskets


Once the month of May rolled around, most of the girls from the Second Avenue School had collected small boxes, colored paper, candies, and bits of weeds, flowers, and grasses for use in the annual rite of “Hanging May Baskets.”  Simple rules meant that the givers would hang a decorated basket on the door knob of a friend, ring a doorbell, and then run and hide from the receiver.


As a third grader, I decided to join the movement and surprise my best friend Scoot.  I had a small box, two jawbreakers, and a sprig of lilacs.  It was a pitiful offering and so I asked my Dad for help.  It was getting dark but Scoot lived just across the street.  With his silent permission to travel, I watched him make a miracle.


He took a sheet of paper from his desk, folded it into a cone shape and fastened a handle on the top.  The jawbreakers filled the bottom and the lilacs peeked out of the top.  My basket looked great!


I raced across the yard, with the help of the street lights, but somehow my feet tangled and I crashed to the ground.  To my horror, Dad’s basket was partly under me and partly scattered in the street.


I sobbed silently more afraid of what Dad would say about his creation, than the awful loss of a gift.  I held up the crumbled mess to him.  Without a word, he removed another sheet of paper and, this time, rolled it into a silver cone.  There were two braided handles on it that were beautiful to behold.  From his pocket came a new pack of Juicy Fruit gum which fit into the bottom of the cone.  Out came more paper from his desk that was thin and pink.  Under his fingers, two beautiful roses appeared to fit nicely on the top of the cone.


This time, I walked proudly up to Scoot’s door and hung my May Basket on the knob.  I didn’t care if she saw me or not – the gift was worthy of the giver.


That was the night my Father taught me, “If at first you don’t succeed……”


Mary Elizabeth Mruzik

Pacific, Mo.


[Ed. Note: This was her last story dictated just days before her death in late April, 2011]