|It was one of the coldest nights of this winter. But nonetheless, people came. In fact they packed into our house, making it so warm we had to open the doors at one point to let some cold air in. From my point of view, it was a great night. Just about everyone brought something for the meal, and our table was piled high with haggis, roast beef, caribou, champit tatties (potatoes), bashed neeps (turnips), salads, scotch eggs, bread, and no fewer than five desserts!
Gramma Iris said the Selkirk Grace, and then it was time to pipe in the haggis. Joe went first, playing the pipes, and I followed, carrying a big platter with a fat steaming haggis decked out with heather. We marched through the house a couple of times, and then set the haggis in front of Glenn, who proceeded with the Address to the Haggis. Then it was time to eat.
After dinner came the entertainment. Joe and his two bagpipe students played a few tunes for everyone. Donna gave us a tune on her fiddle. Calvin sang (I accompanied him on the piano) and plied with scotch, I even attempted a highland fling (the execution left a lot to be desired but people didn’t seem to mind!) There were the speeches (Immortal Memory, Address to the Lassies, and Reply from the Lassies), more piping, and then we sent people off into the night with plastic containers filled with haggis, and with sprigs of heather carefully wrapped to protect them against the cold.
It pleases me to no end that we can do this each year. People genuinely seem to have a good time. It pleases me that Alan brought a gang of his friends this year, including the lead singer in a local heavy metal band. This rather tough looking fellow, with his tattoos and black painted fingernails, came up to me at the end of the night and like a sweet child he gave me a big hug, telling me he loved me. Such is the power of haggis and a good Scotch I guess!
This night is as much about forging traditions and making memories as it is about celebrating Burns. My kids look forward to this celebration every year, and my hope is that when they grow up and have their own families, and Joe and I toddle off to some old folks home where we won’t be able to remember our own selves let alone who Burns was, they will keep this tradition going.