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Children's Stories
by Margo Fallis
Tartan Day in America


"Iím so excited about going to the parade today, Dad," said Gordon.

"Iím excited about the activities in the park afterwards," Jessica said. "I love walking around and looking at all the booths and I love the food too."

"Letís be on our way then," said Duncan Menteith. His family piled into the car and off they went.

"When did you come to America, Dad?" Gordon asked.

"I was about ten years old. It seems so long ago, yet I remember Scotland well," he answered.

"Mum, were you born in Scotland too?" Jessica questioned.

"No, honey. I was born here, in the good old U.S.A. I met your dad at school. I do know a lot about Scotland now. I think I can sing every Scottish song there is," Elise laughed.

They chatted and reminisced all the way to the park. When they pulled up into the parking lot, Jessica cried out, "Look, Dad. Thereís a whole bunch of bagpipers! Theyíre wearing kilts!" She started laughing. "That is so funny to see men wearing skirts, isnít it, Gordon?"

"Iíd never wear a skirt. Did you ever wear one, Dad?" he asked.

"When I was wee, my Gran bought me a kilt. I donít remember wearing it, but Iíve got photographs at home that prove I did," he answered.

They found a place to sit and watch the parade. Elise had brought a tartan blanket for them to sit on, instead of the grass. Gordon looked around. His eyes seemed to bulge with fascination at everything going on. There was tartan everywhere he looked. Tartan ribbons were tied on the lampposts; people in the crowds were wearing so many different types of tartan that Gordon started feeling dizzy.

"The parade will start soon," Dad said.

"What is Tartan Day anyway?" asked Jessica.

"Silly Jessica. Itís when everyone wears their tartan clothes. Isnít that right, Mum?" Gordon asked.

"Actually, no, thatís not right. Itís part of the festivities, but Tartan Day is a special Day. Do you want to know?" Elise asked her children.

"Yes, Mum. Tell us!" shouted Gordon.

"I believe the first national Tartan Day was on April 6, 1997. Itís a day to honor the men and women from Scotland who did something great to help America. People who are from Scotland and now live in America, or who are of Scottish decent, are called Scottish Americans. Thatís what your dad is. Did you know that more than half of the Presidents of the United States were of Scottish descent?" Elise explained.

"No, I didnít know that, Mum. Wow. Thatís a lot," Jessica said, interested in what her mum was telling her.

"More than half of the signers of the Declaration of Independence were Scottish Americans too," she continued. "You may not know this but a lot of Scottish people invented things that are still used today."

"Like what, Mum?" Gordon asked.

"Well, there are a lot of famous people from Scotland that you would know. Sheena Easton, the singer? Sheís from Scotland. The founder of the Girl Scouts of America, Juliette Gordon Low was of Scottish descent, so was Elizabeth Taylor, the movie star, Grandma Moses, the painter, and Sean Connery. Youíve heard of them, havenít you?" she asked.

"Iíve heard of some of them, Mum, but not all. They didnít invent things, though. Theyíre just famous people," Gordon reminded.

"Yes, thereís also Alexander Graham Bell, who invented the telephone and James Watt, who invented the steam engine. They are both Scottish. Thereís so many; too many to mention," Elise continued. The pipe band started warming up and moving down the street towards them. "Letís watch the parade now. I love the pipe bands!"

Gordon and Jessica sat, eyes fixed on the parade. There were pipers marching by constantly. Gordon put his hands over his ears because he didnít like the shrill noise of the bagpipes. There were floats and clowns tossing out candy to the children. Jessicaís favorite float had Highland dancers on it. Gordonís favorite float was one with men dressed like Highland warriors, with battle gear and painted faces.

When the parade was done they headed into the park. They went to all the booths. One sold books about Scottish history and clans. Duncan bought the Menteith family history. He wanted to read about his ancestors. He also bought a tartan tie. Elise and Jessica left Gordon and Duncan there and went to find some food. They came back with a big bag, filled with goodies. "Letís go and find a picnic table," Elise said.

The family found one under a large willow tree. She opened the bag. "Weíve got some delicious food here. I hope you are all hungry."

"Iím starving," said Gordon.

"Me too," Jessica chimed in.

Elise handed each of them a bridie. The flaky crust, shaped like a half moon, was filled with cheese and bits of onion and meat. "This is delicious," Duncan said, wiping his mouth.

There were meat pies, more bridies and lots of pastries and shortbread. "This is yummy food," Gordon said. "I wish we could eat Scottish food all the time," he laughed.

After they finished eating, they watched a performance by the Highland dancers, a Scottish fiddle concert and joined in a sing-a-long. Gordon and Jessica knew most of the songs because their mum and dad always played them in the house. "That was fun," Jessica said.

After a long day, they headed for home. Gordon and Jessica fell asleep in the back of the car. Duncan and Elise talked. "Letís do that again next year," she said. "That was the best time weíve had as a family in ages. I think the kids are proud to be Scottish, donít you?"

"I know that I am," Duncan said, pride swelling in his heart. They put a CD on in the car and listened quietly as they drove back home.

See Electric Scotland's page on Tartan Day


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