For as long as I can remember - and I have the best memory of anyone you know - that was always the first thing I heard my Mom say on this day.
She would say it to each of her six kids as we came down for breakfast; she would say it to her friends when they came over for coffee; she would cheerfully answer the phone with that greeting, not caring who was on the other end. There was always a big grin on her face and a mischievous twinkle in her eye.
My Mom - and I have noted this before - was a woman of surpassing beauty (although we were, of course, oblivious to that). This is a picture of me and my older brother Jay and Mom from sometime in the 1960s - I'm going to guess she was in her early forties, although ... funny, huh? ... I can't wrap my head around looking at a picture of Mom and imagining the woman in the photo being younger than I am now.
On the morning of every May 1 since I moved out of my parents' house, I would call my Mom. Every one of my siblings did, too. We'd call just to hear the music of her voice as she answered the phone with "Hurray, Hurray! The First of May! Outside screwing starts today!"
It never occurred to me that this little bit of doggerel was in some way "inappropriate" to teach young children. That's a label that has sprung up relatively recently. I don't think any one of us was poisoned by what we heard. It amused my Mom, it amused us greatly, and it became as much a part of our family fabric as any nursery rhyme we ever heard.
I didn't - and won't - call my Mom today.
I know where she is right now, as I type this. She's sitting in her green chair, across from my Dad's chair. Dad is up in bed - he sleeps late now. The TV is on, although if you asked her, Mom wouldn't be able to identify the program.
She'll probably sit there all morning, waiting for Dad to get up. Now and again, she'll reach for her purse and fumble around inside it, looking for ... something. She'll carefully undo each of the zippers and sift through the contents of the pockets of her purse. She'll re-zip every pocket just as carefully, and set the purse down. And in a few minutes, she'll pick up her purse and start looking through it again.
I'm not going to call, because Mom is sitting right by the phone. And she will answer it. "Hello?" And it will once again break my heart. And there's been quite enough of that lately, thanks.
But this morning, when I realized what day it was, I grinned and remembered. And later today, I'll phone each of my girls, and when they answer I'll say:
"Hurray, hurray! The First of May! Outside screwing starts today!"