A real Dutch village

My little jaunt to the Netherlands is almost over, but it is hard for me to hang around here without thinking of how much my maternal Grandmother would have been amused at my being on Dutch soil yet again. So far I have not made it to the ancestral homeland, the town Dordrecht, but it’s only a matter of time, I’m sure! I hear from my hosts on this trip (to Eindhoven) that Dordrecht is lovely and thus definitely worth a visit with my camera. Maybe next time my sister is in town!

I got a little sentimental this evening after wandering around the old town of Eindhoven, recalling the time that my Grandma and I spent bumming around Holland, Michigan, including our visit to the theme park/shopping area known as the “Dutch Village“. My Gram was really enjoying that day; she was proudly 100% Dutch, her parents came over as immigrants to the US (how ironic, says this American expat… only lasted two generations!) and although she was born in the US, she grew up speaking Dutch. Gram charmed everyone in the Dutch village with her fascination for the place and her affection for the homeland she had never visited, and that’s certainly the way I remember her too–she was definitely sentimental about the motherland in some ways, and wanting to pass that to her kids and grandkids. How hard she tried to teach us little phrases, and how happy I am now to have some of her recipes. Her visit for the Dutch village extravaganza was such a really special trip–I lived in Michigan, and she (although around 80 years old at the time) flew from Minnesota for a long weekend to visit me and hang out in America’s own little Dutch enclave: A visit I will never, ever forget.

I get now that my childhood was somewhat unusual in ways: many Americans are quite well-settled in the great melting pot and many generations have been established in the US, while I was reasonably close to the recent arrivals, who all came to MN or thereabouts around the turn of the 20th century. This one was always my “Dutch Grandma” (to contrast with my “Norwegian Grandma” who was similarly first generation American and also speaks her mother tongue). Holland, MI was as close as my Gram ever made it to the Netherlands, so I hope she’s smiling down on me today from the great beyond. I know I’ve enjoyed being here and look forward to another visit, perhaps more leisurely and for soaking up more of the culture, in the future.

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2 responses to “A real Dutch village

  1. This is an absolutely beautiful post. I actually have tears in my eyes but shhh, don’t tell anyone!

    I can relate 100%. My family left Spain just two generations ago, with my grandparents settling in South America and my parents moving up to the US just after I was born. I grew up in the US but my entire life was centered around Spain. We all spoke Spanish at home and ate Spanish foods and watched Spanish movies…etc. When my grandmother found out I was moving to Spain, she cried from the joy.

    You’ve reminded me today that I am blessed to be living here. Thank you for this post.

  2. pacificyorkshirebird

    It IS a beautiful post! My paternal grandfather was born in the US to Scandanavian born parents. He actually grew up only speaking English and his parents were in favor of him “fitting in” as much as possible thus much of their culture was not passed down to him. I would have loved to talk to him about his experiences growing up, learn language with him, and find out more about our family in Scandanavia. But really, he did not identify with these things.

    To this day I have a major goal of a long vacation to that part of the world to take it all in. I have no idea whether I will feel connected there or not.

    My mom visits the UK and feels “at home” in so many ways because of her family’s English heritage. I think it is wonderful to discover these kinds of feelings about new places!

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