Give your mother a kiss or I’ll kick your teeth in.

Happy Robbie Burns Day!  I was telling the boys about Robbie Burns Day today, explaining the celebratory nature – in a modified way – and about their Scottish ancestry.  Jake was getting more and more agitated and more and more defiant about it, when he burst out “We are not in Scotland, Mom!  We are in Canada.  WE ARE CANADIAN.”

Good point.  Also I have to admit the only thing I do on Robbie Burns Day is look up YouTube videos of Mike Myers in So I Married an Axe Murderer and walk around singing Bay City Rollers songs and Do You Think I’m Sexy in a Scottish accent.  I’m probably putting my ancestors to shame.  It’s not like I’m heading over to the Legion to eat haggis, get drunk on Scotch, and get into a brawl with someone from a different clan, like a good Scottish lassie. 

Haggis.  You have to hand it to the Scots, they have cornered the market on the world’s worst cuisine.  Scottish cuisine is the absolute bottom of the global barrel.  Second is probably Norweigan – and hey, I’m Scottish-Norweigan so I can really vouch for this.  Boiled potatoes!  Fish balls!  And I’m very sorry to offend all of you haggis and/or lutefisk fans, but what the hell?  Was everyone drunk and did those dishes really seem like a good idea at the time?  Someone very kindly mentioned to me recently that if I wanted, I could get vegetarian haggis, which honestly seems like the third-most-awful food item in the world. 

Do you ever wonder how kind of bizarre cultural things got their start?  Like, for example, bagpipes.  Actually, I can probably guess how bagpipe music got its start but it’s a grim picture so I won’t go there.  Do people honestly enjoy bagpipe music or is it one of those things that you intellectually think you should enjoy because of your ancestry, but emotionally and viscerally you loathe it?  Is it like the recorder – intellectually you realize that elementary aged children are taught the recorder because of its lightweight size and inexpensiveness, but the sound of it, my god, the sound of it.  There is nothing like being next door to a classroom full of recorder-playing fifth graders.  Did I mention that I’m starting to get ready for the next book fair, which is next door to the music room?  Alcoholic donations welcome.  Also?  Ear plugs.

Because of the melting streets and the filth on my windshield causing me to be actually unable to see out my windshield, which seems like a liability somehow, I washed the car today.  That is a MAN’S job, people.  Anyway, I manned up and took my filthy minivan to the carwash, and beside it an apartment complex is being erected (heh) and there was a giant, cavernous hole dug, filled with various heavy machinery.  It made me supremely nostalgic.  There was a time when I would walk my boys in their double stroller to construction sites, and they would sit there, fascinated, for HOURS on end.  Jake was one, and he would clap his little hands and say “Diggies!  Diggies!  Jake happy!  Happy!”  We spent our days that way, our endless unscheduled days, wandering around the neighbourhood looking at buses and machinery, and playing farm and blocks and trains, and now suddenly they are gone most of the day and when they are home they are involved in their own little lives that often do not involve me at all, and one day they are going to be bringing their recorders home to practice and suddenly I am wallowing in Robbie Burns Day melancholy.  Just like a good Scottish lassie.


  1. The college I attended always hosted a Robert Burns dinner. The students didn’t go, except as servers. But I hear the community always had a good time.

  2. Vegetarian haggis is the third worst…. now I’m curious what the first two are.
    Your boys will embrace their Scottish heritage when they are older but not old enough to drink and want to have a Scotch on Robbie Burns day … they’ll say it’s their heritage, don’t cave in!

  3. Haggis.
    Should be outlawed.
    Have you ever seen that Bizzare Foods show where that guy eats everything and anything?
    You should.
    It’s like a train wreck…you can’t look away from it.

  4. Fish balls and haggis. Yum. How about horse meat? You can get that in Holland.


  5. Agh, my son is playing the recorder these days and it makes me feel alternately suicidal and filled with rage. Is there a more annoying instrument for a 3rd grader to play. It’s all tweet, squawk, toot. Shudder. I am DREADING the 3rd grade “music” program because I know it means sitting through god only knows how many recorder songs. May have to ask doctor for some valium and ear plugs.

  6. My husband swears haggis is good. He speaks fondly of a place he used to go to in Scarborough, run by a Chinese couple, that served fish & chips, and haggis. I personally think he’s made it all up, especially the part about the haggis tasting good.

  7. Ten years ago, on Robbie Burns Day, I was three weeks away from giving birth to our first born. I was working with seniors who had Dementia, and a fellow came in to entertain them, reciting Burns’ poetry.
    He spoke of a “Bonnie wee lass, from the Isle of Skye.”
    I was instantly intrigued. I already had considered the name Skylar for a girl, but didn’t like the hippy nature of a girl named Sky.
    Skye, on the other hand, was beautiful. That “e” on the end of it, made it so much more distinguished, as Anne of Green Gables would say.
    And, as I was named Heather, because of my Mom’s scottish ancestry, Skye seemed most appropriate.
    Some day, Skye and I will walk hand in hand on the Isle of Skye, through a field of Heather. It will be the perfect makings for a 1970’s shampoo commercial!
    I have no other connection to Robbie Burns Day than that, but coming up with my daughter’s name, will always make me a bit nostalgic, and thankful for it!

  8. I thought Rod Stewart sang “Do You Think I’m Sexy”!? Thank you for sharing your cultural heritage with me, Nicole.

    If you think Scottish and Norwegian food is awful you need to meet more German people. My sister-in-law is forever eating pigs’ hooves or snouts. At least a cow’s stomach never touched faeces! Mind you, stomachs, hooves, snouts and faeces are probably in the hotdogs that I grew up eating, so maybe I should just shut the eff up.

  9. Haggis. I’ve never tried it but I could have.

    I passed.

  10. The place I used to work at always had haggis on Robbie Burns day. There was usually a line of at least a few hundred people waiting to get their little paper cup of haggis. One year I stood in line too. Honestly? It wasn’t that bad. No where near as bad as some other food I’ve had. Not that I stood in line for it the next year, mind you. It may not be the worst thing I’ve ever had, but it’s not like I’m begging for more.

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