My son and his 8th grade classmates at the 2009 May Crowning

Sitting outside this evening, I smelled the honeysuckle and looked over at our garden statue of the Blessed Mother and suddenly found myself launching into “‘Tis the Month of Our Mother.” (I frequently burst into song at the least provocation and have an extensive all-occasion repertoire, which drives my children crazy.)

I cherish the memory of the May Crownings at the St. Joseph School of my childhood.  EVERYONE brought flowers, in vases, in coffee cans, in coke bottles.  We didn’t have anything blooming in our yard in May, so we always left a little early that morning to make a stop at my grandmother’s yard, leaving with handfuls of multi-colored iris wrapped in wet paper towels and aluminum foil.
The year I was in the 8th grade, our class had the privilege of arranging the flowers around the statue.  There was a veritable sea of every kind of spring flower you could think of arrayed around her in a semi-circle for several feet.  It was beautiful.
Things have changed a bit–don’t they always?  Nowadays, many of the kids bring bouquets from Kroger instead of handfuls of homegrown blooms.  And adults with an eye for design arrange a few tasteful bouquets around Mary.  You can see in the picture above how pretty it looks, but to me it doesn’t compare to the mismatched bounty of the past.
The songs haven’t changed, though.  I remember Sister Janice and Sister Georgeanna coaching us on all the hymns to the Blessed Mother in preparation for the May Procession.  “Salve, Salve, SALVE REGINA!” we would crescendo.  And they still begin with my all-time favorite, which I was also singing in the backyard this evening: “Bring flowers of the fairest, bring flowers of the rarest .”
I think some time this month we are going to pick some buttercups and honeysuckle and whatever else I can find blooming in our yard at this time of year.  We will fill some pretty bottles we have with water and use them for vases we can place around our statue.  We will make a crown of flowers (I’m not at all crafty, so that will be the hard part!) and Lorelei can place them on the Blessed Virgin’s head while we sing.

Lorelei and William with our church’s statue of Mary on his First Communion day


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