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Children's Stories
by Margo Fallis
Burnís Supper


Mungo sat in his chair. A fire was roaring in the fireplace. A pile of wood sat on the hearth, waiting to be tossed in. Outside, the snow blew ferociously. He had thought of canceling tonightís storytelling night, but decided to go ahead with it, knowing how much the bairns looked forward to it. Ginger, his cat, lay curled in a ball on a small carpet in front of the fire. In the kitchen, a pot of cock-a-leekie soup was bubbling on the stove. A haggis was simmering in another pot. Everything was ready for the bairns.

DING DONG! Mungo pulled the lap blanket off him and opened the door. "Come in. Come in, quickly," he said to Morag, Gavin and wee Fiona. They were covered with snow. "Go and stand in front of the fire and warm up," he urged them, shutting the door behind them.

"Itís cold out there, Mr. McGee," wee Fiona said. Her teeth were chattering with the cold.

"Itís nice a warm in here," Morag said, removing her coat and hanging it on a hook.

DING DONG! Mungo hoped the others all showed up together so he didnít have to keep opening the door. "Welcome Gregor, Andy and wee Hamish. Iím happy youíre all here. Come in quickly."

They ran inside and over to the fire. Mungo watched Ginger run into the bedroom. She wanted to stay warm and didnít like the cold wind blowing in when the door opened. "Good evening, ladies and lassies. Hang up your coats and warm up. Tonight, weíre having a special night. None of you ate supper, did you?"

"I didnít and Iím starving," Gregor said.

"We didnít have any supper," wee Fiona said, pointing at Gavin.

"I havenít eaten a thing. Iím famished," Morag smiled. Andy and wee Hamish hadnít eaten either.

"Iíve got the big table set in the dining room for us. Itís ready for us. Letís go in and find a seat," he said. The bairns ran into the dining room.

"Wow, look at that table," Gavin said. The bairns stared. Golden goblets, shiny silverware, cloth napkins, and crystal salt and pepper shakers were spread on the red and green tartan tablecloth.

"Tonight, bairns, weíre celebrating Robert Burns Night. Weíre having a Burnís Supper!" Mungo said, excitedly. "Your mums and dads are out celebrating tonight, so I thought weíd have our own little celebration."

"Whatís a Burnís Supper?" wee Hamish asked.

"January 25th, which is tonight, is Robert Burnsí birthday. He was a famous Scottish poet and is known throughout the world for his great works. People around the world celebrate his birth by having a big supper. Now, you are to all sit quietly, except for Morag and Gavin. I need your help," Mungo said. The two got up.

The others talked and giggled and looked at their reflections in the golden goblets while Mungo, Gavin and Morag prepared the food. "Morag, would you please ladle the cock-a-leekie soup into the soup tureen? Be very careful not to burn yourself," Mungo asked.

"Iíd be happy to, Mr. McGee," she replied and did as she was asked.

"Gavin, please take the haggis out of the pot and put it on this platter," Mungo requested. "You be careful too."

"Haggis? I love haggis. We never get it at our house because my mum doesnít like it, but I do and so does wee Fiona," Gavin said. "Do you like haggis, Morag?"

She smiled at him and answered, "I love haggis, Gavin."

"Iím going to go and put the bagpipe CD on. Iíll be right back," Mungo said. He went into the dining room. "Bairns," he said to the others at the table, "you can listen to this music. Weíll be ready with the food shortly." He put the music on. Bagpipe music blared and filled with house with noise.

Mungo went back into the kitchen. He spooned the potatoes out of the pot and put them into a bowl. He mashed the turnip and put it into another bowl. He then carried them through to the dining room and put them on the table. "Donít eat anything yet," he cautioned the bairns. He went back into the kitchen. "Morag, would you take the tureen of soup through, carefully, and the ladle, and put them in the center of the table. Thanks. Gavin, please carry through the bannocks and butter and then come back through to carry the shortbread and pastries."

Mungo then put some parsley around the haggis to make it colorful. When Gavin and Morag were back in the dining room, sitting down, Mungo came through carrying the haggis. "Wow! Look at the haggis!" Gregor said.

The bagpipe music was still blaring away. Mungo put the haggis in the center of the table near the soup. "What kind of soup is that?" asked wee Fiona.

"Itís called cock-a-leekie soup," Mungo said. Giggles filled the room. "Itís made from leeks, which are like onions. Itís very delicious. In a few minutes you can try some. He walked over and turned off the bagpipe music. "Iím going to recite the ĎOde to the Haggisí," Mungo said. "Iíll only do one verse as itís too long for wee bairns. Fair faí your honest, sonsie face, Great chieftain oí the puddin-race! Aboon them aí ye takí your place, Painch, tripe, or thairm: Weel are ye wordy of a grace worthy as langís my arm."

"What did you say?" asked Gregor.

"I know, bairns, itís hard to understand. Itís old talk from hundreds of years ago. I donít understand much of it myself; but its tradition to say it when you present the haggis. Weíre not ready to eat yet. Weíve also got to say the Selkirk Grace," Mungo said.

"Is that as hard to understand as the Ode to the Haggis? Did you understand it Gavin?" asked Morag.

Embarrassed to admit it, Gavin answered, "No, Morag. I didnít."

"No, the grace isnít so difficult. Here I go. ĎSome hae meat but cannae eat, some wid eat that want I: But we hae meat and we can eat, and sae the Lord be thankit.í There, that wasnít so bad, was it?" Mungo asked.

"I didnít understand one word," said wee Hamish. He started laughing. Wee Fiona joined him. Soon all the bairns were laughing at the silly grace.

"What do we get to drink in our goblets?" asked Andy.

"Thereís lemonade, water, or milk," Mungo replied.

"What did Robert Burns drink?" asked Gregor.

"He probably drank whiskey, but youíre all too young for that. All right, bairns, weíve said grace. You can stop laughing now and eat," Mungo said. He sat down in his chair and cut into the haggis. It burst from the casing and filled the air with steam and a delicious aroma. "Pass the food around and take as much as you want, but eat what you take. Donít eat the shortbread or pastries until after youíve had your supper." They all chose to fill their goblets with lemonade and then spent the next hour eating. The bairns loved the haggis and the cock-a-leekie soup. They loved all the food. In fact, there wasnít one crumb left on any plate; even the turnip and potatoes were gone. Mungo tapped the side of his golden goblet with his spoon. "Bairns, we canít leave the table until weíve sang a song." Mungo said.

"What song?" asked Andy, wiping vanilla icing and pastry crumbs from his face.

"Weíre going to sing a song that Robert Burns wrote. Itís called ĎAuld Lang Syneí," Mungo said.

"We all know that one," said wee Fiona. "We learned it in school."

"Thatís good. Iím glad to hear that. Letís sing it then," Mungo said.

ĎShould auld acquaintance be forgot, and never brought to mind?

Should auld acquaintance be forgot, and days of auld lang syne?

For auld lang syne, my dear, for auld lang syne?

Weíll takí a cup oí kindness yet, for auld lang syne.í

"That was beautiful, bairns. This is a wonderful Burnís Supper. Letís leave the table for now and go into the living room and weíll sing some more and dance," Mungo said.

"What about our story tonight?" asked wee Hamish.

"We donít need a story. Weíre living one right now," Mungo explained. "You are learning about one of Scotlandís greatest men, Robert Burns. Thatís better than a story," Mungo smiled.

The rest of the evening they danced, sang, laughed, and drank ginger ale. Mungo took through another platter of pastries and cakes, which were devoured quickly. Ginger, the cat, came out of the bedroom to see what was going on. She took great pleasure in licking the plates clean. DING DONG! It was time to go. The parents had to drag the bairns away from Mungoís house. After the last had gone, Mungo collapsed in the chair and sighed. He knew he had a mess to clean in the kitchen and he had to clear the table off too. "The mess can wait," he said. He poured himself a drink of whiskey and toasted Robert Burns. "To you, Rabbie Burns," he said to Ginger. "May every Burnís Supper be as grand as this one. Happy birthday to you!"

You can listen to a whole Burns Supper courtesy of the Scots Independent Newspaper


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