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When I am stressed out, I clean. When someone I love is having a hard time, my first reaction is to cook, and then give them what I’ve cooked.

I was telling my aunt how much I have been cooking, cleaning, and baking lately, and she wondered if the tradition of giving food to ill and/or grieving families was a Scottish thing. She assumes sometimes that everything even remotely noble in our impulses is a direct result of our Scottish ancestry, like our low, flat butts and inability to tan.

I explained how I didn’t think it was a case of genealogy, but that people who have experienced loss know what to do. Their neighbours and loved ones filled their freezers, did their dishes, made their beds, when tragedy struck them. Then, when they saw others suffering, they knew what to do.

The work also helps those of us who feel helpless. Doing something is better than doing nothing.

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