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
"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
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.
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
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
"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
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,"
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