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May Day!

May Day!

I grew up thinking that celebrating May Day by awaking at first light, running outside in your nightie and rubbing your face in the morning dew was a normal, if somewhat more Southern, tradition.  Well, the older I got, the more I understood that it is more of a Southern thing, but more specifically more of a “my family” thing.

According to my mother and generations of her female Georgia ancestors, on May 1st of every year, it is a woman’s duty to perform this odd, but special ritual that would supposedly keep you beautiful for the whole next year – until the next May Day came around.  I remember as far back as my mind goes, going outside with my mom, school day or not, rainy or not, and picking the perfect spot where there was lots of fluffy grass.  We’d kneel down, hold our breath, and simultaneously plunge our faces into the collection of waiting dew drops that had gathered on the grass blades just for us on this important day while trying not to giggle and inhale any bugs or dirt.

My mother has aged so beautifully, so I have never questioned the sacred act of May Day.  And I look at her mother, and her mother’s mother….they had flawless, porcelain doll-esque skin until their last days.

Well, along came college.  I was in a new state, on my own, and my mom would call me before bedtime on April 30th to remind me to set my alarm clock for our May Day frolic.  I did note my freshman year that there wasn’t a single other sole on the beautiful lawn, but figured there were other places around campus, and perhaps they had already gone outside or weren’t as early a riser as I.  When I asked my friends at lunch if they had remembered to get up to do this, I was met with raised eyebrows and utterly blank stares…apparently they hadn’t remembered.  No, more like they thought I was mad.  “You got up at 6 am to go stick your face in the grass?”, I was asked.  My, “Well, duh” answer was met in return with some open jaws and an obvious interest behind my insanity (the fact that I was an art major did nothing to deter the amazement and questions).

I told my brief tale, recounted my mother’s gorgeous skin, and that’s when I knew, though all of these girls were from various parts of the south (South Carolina, Georgia, Florida) that they had never heard of such a thing, but they did find it amusing and charming and promised to join me in next year’s escapade.

The last few years have been a bit different, being a new mother and not having the will power to wake up at such a horribly early hour.  But my mother has been a goddess and savior of my facial upkeep.  She has remembered to go outside herself, gather dew drops on paper towels, which she then stored in the freezer until she could get one to me, to my sister, and to my sister-in-law.

And so continues our family tradition of May Day.  Thus far there are only male heirs lined up in the family.  My brother and his bride have twin sons who will be turning one in mere days.  My oldest son is expecting a new brother in August, and my little sister (1o years my junior) has been threatened with bodily harm NOT to have children until she’s done with college and married.  So, currently though there are no little girls to pass along and share this silly ritual with, we of the older generations will continue to do so ourselves.

Hell – getting up at dawn once a year and running outside for a few minutes is much cheaper than all the face lotions and potions and botox-y, plastic surgery options out there!  Join me next year for the annual Running of the Dew Drops.  May 1st, early morning.  Be there, or prepare to risk a year of ugliness!!

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