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Penny Inglis still loves making May Day baskets

by BILL BULEY
Staff Writer | May 1, 2020 1:13 AM

Penny Inglis still loves making May Day baskets

COEUR d’ALENE — Penny Inglis has been making baskets for May Day, today, most of her life.

It is a tradition she treasures.

So much that even though she has been battling health issues and was recently hospitalized, she spent Thursday working hard to create 20 decorated and gift-filled baskets for friends and family.

Only, don’t tell them who left the basket on their porch. It’s a secret.

“You’re supposed to knock on the door and run and hide in the bush and they’re supposed to catch you and give you a kiss,” Inglis said as she sat in her comfortable, cozy home, beautiful baskets filling the table in front of her.

Not that it always works out as hoped.

Inglis recounts a story of growing up in South Dakota and leaving a May basket for a boy.

“He didn’t like me, but I liked him,” she said.

Inglis knocked on the door and dashed away.

The boy, Bobby, didn’t give chase.

“He picked up my basket and he threw it in a mud puddle,” Inglis said. “You put that in the paper.”

Despite not feeling 100 percent, Inglis pushed ahead with her plans for May Day baskets, and got help from friend Mary and daughter Marge.

They filled each basket with small gifts collected throughout the year — candy, soap, flowers, trinkets, even a poem — and they will be delivered today. Some are for grandchildren. Some for neighbors. Some for friends at Brookdale Coeur d’Alene, a senior living facility.

“I take stuff over to them all the time,” Inglis said. “They’re going to get the special ones.”

She is generous with praise, too.

She refers to her friend Mary as “an angel” who helps her deliver “and takes care of me.”

“Marge is the same way,” Inglis said.

Inglis finds joy in the little things.

She glanced out her window Thursday toward the bird feeder and suddenly, her voice was filled with excitement.

“Look, we’ve got a goldfinch. You see it?”

Her kind ways are rare, said friend Mary.

“She is the most generous person I have ever met,” Mary said. “She spends her life trying to do things for others.”

When she was younger, Inglis would make up to 40 May baskets, drive to homes of loved ones and leave them, anonymously. Later, grandchildren joined in and learned about May Day.

Today, at 75, she continues making May Day baskets for two reasons: To make people happy, and to continue a tradition she loves. She fears this could be her last year doing so.

“Carry on tradition,” she repeats with determination. “Please, people. Carry on the tradition. That’s what I want, more than anything.”

Her daughter, Marge, seated nearby, is asked if she will be the one who does.

“I might,” she said, smiling as she looked at her mom. “I don’t know if I’ll make 40 of them.”

Inglis, appropriately enough, receives May Day baskets, too, and proudly displayed one that landed on her porch Thursday.

Per tradition, she didn’t see who knocked on the door and scurried away.

“But I have a good feeling I know who this is from,” she said.