Sunday, September 13, 2009

Dutch windows

I met my new visiting teaching companion on Sunday, just returned from a Hong Kong temple mission with her husband and it turns out she is "one-hundred percent Dutch" (her words).
She was born in Amsterdam and emigrated with her parents to America in 1955 when she was ten.

I am one-hundred-percent Dutch as well, and in my excitement I may have tried to hug her, which is about the most anti-Dutch thing one can do. Emotion is an embarrassment to the Dutch. Fortunately, she was also a good humored woman and chatty, features I like about my
fellow countrymen and women.

But there are down sides to being Dutch: you think you know everything, even what people are thinking. You don't deserve a birthday party, unless you have it yourself and cook for all your guests. You don't deserve anything, actually. Especially success. And there is that Calvinist guilt that we generate so effortlessly.

My new friend told me something I didn't know. The old Calvinists had a rule that good people should not have window coverings. They had another rule: do not look into other people's windows.

Well, of course. Trust the Dutch to come up with impossible rules. Here I thought those windows with the potted plants in them and a tiny rim of lace at the top were so friendly, so inviting. I loved gawking through them.

Turns out that gawking is against the rules.

I've been butting up against other people's rules all my life. Perhaps the modern Dutch, with their ultra-progressive social programs, like me, are butting up against those Calvinist forefathers.

Am I on my high horse? Better get down before I hurt myself.

Thursday, I will go visiting teaching with my new friend and she will speak Dutch to me and I will be happy.


ann cannon said...

Oh, I love this! Such a lovely explication of Dutch-ness.

When Ken and I were travelling through Europe with two little kids (how not romantic), we found the Dutch to be good humored and sensible with our little family. After roaming through several countries (which will remain nameless) where we practically got dirty looks for having children with us, the Netherlands seemed like heaven.

Katy said...

This companionship was pure inspiration. Having someone you enjoy talking with can make a world of difference.

Gold-E said...

I'm only 50% Dutch and I have every one of these traits. I would like to believe I picked up all of my dad's good genes, but maybe that is questionable. As for gawking in windows, I do that too. I've taken pictures of about 1,500 different windows on my various trips to Holland. I couldn't resist the friendliness so I memorialized it.

Katy said...

I hope you had a wonderful birthday.

Jason M said...

I don't think there is anything Dutch in my heritage. To my knowledge, I am French, Danish, Swedish, and British (Merrell, Mortensen, Larsen, and Clarke). Perhaps it is the Danish and British parts of me that relate so closely to those morose Dutch qualities you describe. I am lucky enough to have or have had people in my life who shed light, slow as I may be to understand. For all the light you have so generously shown, Louise, I will always always love you.

Louise Plummer said...

Katy, I had a great birthday. I'll display the cards a few more days and then it will all be over.