Earlier this year, when we were cleaning out the basement, Duhdee’s grandfather gave us permission to throw out a few things he had stored down there. Before we discarded the boxes, however, we took a look and discovered some Christmas decorations that Duhdee’s grandmother had collected.
Duhdee’s mom took the crystal nativity and Duhdee and I decided to keep a few of the Santa figurines. The Santa figurines each represent a country. There are 6 of them. I didn’t pay much mind to the countries of origin or, if I did, I soon forgot. We packed them in with the rest of our Christmas items and there they’ve sat for the last 6 months.
On Wednesday night, I pulled a few more boxes of decorations out to continue decorating the house. I found the box of Santas and while discussing something or other with Duhdee I grabbed one of the small boxes and unwrapped the Santa inside. As I placed it on the shelf I really looked at the Santa for the first time and it brought such a warm feeling to my heart. The Santa was from Holland.
When I finished opening up the rest of the Santas I realized the Santas all represented countries from either Duhdee’s or my heritage except for Holland. Holland represents something even more precious; our son and the journey he is leading us on.
WELCOME TO HOLLAND
Emily Perl Kingsley
I am often asked to describe the experience of raising a child with a disability – to try to help people who have not shared that unique experience to understand it, to imagine how it would feel. It’s like this……
When you’re going to have a baby, it’s like planning a fabulous vacation trip – to Italy. You buy a bunch of guide books and make your wonderful plans. The Coliseum. The Michelangelo David. The gondolas in Venice. You may learn some handy phrases in Italian. It’s all very exciting.
After months of eager anticipation, the day finally arrives. You pack your bags and off you go. Several hours later, the plane lands. The stewardess comes in and says, “Welcome to Holland.”
“Holland?!?” you say. “What do you mean Holland?? I signed up for Italy! I’m supposed to be in Italy. All my life I’ve dreamed of going to Italy.”
But there’s been a change in the flight plan. They’ve landed in Holland and there you must stay.
The important thing is that they haven’t taken you to a horrible, disgusting, filthy place, full of pestilence, famine and disease. It’s just a different place.
So you must go out and buy new guide books. And you must learn a whole new language. And you will meet a whole new group of people you would never have met.
It’s just a different place. It’s slower-paced than Italy, less flashy than Italy. But after you’ve been there for a while and you catch your breath, you look around…. and you begin to notice that Holland has windmills….and Holland has tulips. Holland even has Rembrandts.
But everyone you know is busy coming and going from Italy… and they’re all bragging about what a wonderful time they had there. And for the rest of your life, you will say “Yes, that’s where I was supposed to go. That’s what I had planned.”
And the pain of that will never, ever, ever, ever go away… because the loss of that dream is a very very significant loss.
But… if you spend your life mourning the fact that you didn’t get to Italy, you may never be free to enjoy the very special, the very lovely things … about Holland.
by Emily Perl Kingsley
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