Ah wod some powr the giftie gie us

Last night I was invited to a Bobby Burns night. Leaving my husband adequately equipped with bottles and stored milk, I hied myself to downtown Boston to partake in the adventure.

I walked in the door with my tartan tam (slightly moth-eaten) on my head, my grandmother’s silver thistle proudly on the side. I carried a heavy cast iron dutch oven full of corned beef hash (an old family recipe), along with the inevitable cottage cheese and french bread. I met many new people and told them all about my clan name, history and crest (they were very patient). I explained that the hash was from a recipe that had likely come over on a boat with my great-grandparents. I talked about just what rapscallions my ancestors were. I sang or lead singing for “My Love is like a Red, Red Rose”, and “The Rape of Glencoe” and “The Skye Boat Song” (I totally forgot the first TWO verses!) I joined in other songs. I heard poems — new ones and old favorites.

There are parts of one’s history and background that remain dormant for long stretches of time. My Scottish heritage just doesn’t come up often anymore. I mean, my last name is now IRISH! (The horrors!) It was remarkably refreshing to uncover this particular aspect of who I am!


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Brenda currently lives in Stoneham MA, but grew up in Mineral WA. She is surrounded by men, with two sons, one husband and two boy cats. She plays trumpet at church, cans farmshare produce and works in software.

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