IN THE SPOTLIGHT JAN. 23: What it means to be Scottish

Do I know how to make haggis? Nope. Do I like haggis? Well I don’t hate it.

Bobby Burns celebration is coming up. You know Robert Burns, also known as Rabbie Burns the Ploughman Poet, and in Scotland, known as The Bard?

He lived only 37 years, do you think it was the haggis?

Do I know how to make haggis? Nope. Do I like haggis? Well I don’t hate it. I think that many decide they don’t like it because it is supposed to be made using an animal stomach for the membrane that holds the oatmeal, organ concoction. I don’t know what’s really so shocking about that especially if we think about what sausage casing is supposed to be made out of. I recall my parents going to a Bobbie Burns celebration in Grand Forks many years ago; that particular one was held in a café that used to be where Value Drug is currently. But let’s get back to being Scottish.

I married a Scot and became a McGregor, not a MacGregor, but a McGregor and no I am not related to the MacGregors in Grand Forks, as I so often get asked.  I was, however, born a Cameron, a good old Scottish name.

My father used to sing a little ditty to us when we were children; it’s called A Wee Deoch and Doris by Sir Harry Lauder and it went like this:

There’s a good old Scottish custom that has stood the test o’time, It’s a custom that’s been carried out in every land and clime When brother Scots are gathered, it’s aye the usual thing, Just before we say good night, we fill our cups and sing

Chorus

Just a wee deoch an doris, just a wee drop, that’s all Just a wee deoch and doris afore ye gang awa There’s a wee wifie waitin’ in a wee but an ben If you can say, “It’s a braw bricht moonlicht nicht”

Of course there’s another verse and the chorus once more and I can still sing it to ye if you like. One of his better-known songs is Auld Lang Syne and we still sing it today or some of us do. I love music and my parents did also.  The bagpipes are my very favourite, along with the fiddle or violin.

The sound of the pipes makes me very emotional; I really don’t know why but it does. It’s really hard to sit down when Celtic music is playing and I wish the jig and the reel were more prominent in our culture today, just as they were when I was a child and attended the dances at the Christina Lake Hall with my parents.

Father played both the piano and the violin by ear and, raised in Saskatchewan, played for the country dances. He and my mother both were lovely singers.

So when someone asks what being a Scot means to me well I guess it is all of the above and the childhood memories that go along with it all and the ability to still celebrate Robbie Burns night and still sing A Wee Deoch and Doris. Slainte mhor agad, great health to you.

– Grace McGregor is Area C director for the RDKB