I am Dutch. I'm a Dutch girl. Some people are Irish, but when they say they're Irish, they mean they've got the whole of the British Empire swimming in their gene pool, but they like to drink green bear on March 17. Both sides of my family tree are very tidily Dutch, which is lovely, because the Dutch are a tidy people.
I'm proud of it, my tree. I think the country is beautiful, I love the traditions, and the people are an intriguing blend of practical, adventurous, staid and open minded. I have a Dutch name, and when I try hard, I can spit in the distinctive way the Dutch have when speaking (think Schhhhhiphol airport). However, I'm short, my once blonde hair has long since turned brown, it's been years since I've been on a bike, and I'm really not very fond of fish - pickled, fried, dried or otherwise. This little nut has not grown up to be like the rest of its tree.
Every now and then, I have to do what I did today: visit a Dutch store, stock up on salty Dutch candy, browse the endless variety of cookies stuffed with almond paste, listen to the music, scan the magazines, drool over the cheese, get misty-eyed over the wooden shoes, and reconnect with memories and traditions from childhood.
I feel a kinship with the people who work there, and recognize a certain something in the guy scooping big helpings of double salt black licorice out of the bin, or the woman having a hard time choosing between mild Edam, or smoked Gouda to go with her crusty rolls.
Every Dutch store sells Delft tiles, and to me they are not only beautiful, but familiar, and right. They are as much 'home' to me as a post card of the CN Tower is to Torontonians. Tulip fields, windmills, pastures of cows, tidy canals - they signal comfort and contentment to me.
You might not know it to look at me, but I've got Holland running through my veins. It felt good today, to acknowledge that part of me that remembers where I come from.