I’m home. I may not be for long but it feels good to be here.

So much to process from this trip, as is the case with any trip, but this one in particular felt different from any other.

My dad summed it up pretty accurately as he reflected on his last trip to the Netherlands, “Stepping into that country felt like I was coming home.”

As with many of my revelations it took food for me to feel just as my dad described. Each bite was familiar and deeply comforting. With the anticipation of experiencing an entirely new culture I was greeted to one I had already known. At first I felt disappointed by this as it’s typically it’s the differences, when traveling, that evoke change and awe in me. As the trip rolled on I realized that what to me had seemed like a typical childhood was one that was deeply Dutch. The country, people, food, and traditions were already a part of me. Through this understanding I learned much more about myself, my family, and a deeper knowledge of the culture in which my family originated.

I leave the Netherlands with a great sense of pride, a hunger to learn more, and a strong fervent to instill in my children much of the traditions that marked my childhood. I also leave with boxes and boxes of Hagelslag (chocolate sprinkles typically served on white bread with butter), inspirations for many meals to come, stronger family relationships and new friendships with family I had never known.


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32 Responses to “Home”

  1. Sarah Bittner

    Love your photos, I am going to Belgium, Netherlands, France in a few weeks and cannot wait to eat. Not my first trip to these places, but I feel each time is new and totally exciting!

  2. Jessica

    The photos with the teal night sky and black&white windmill are stunning together! You really are blessed to have been travel to your family’s homeland and it sounds like you made the most of it.

  3. Bobbi

    I always marvel at that way food binds together our personal history, sense of place and time, love and loss, etc. What a beautiful story–thank you!

  4. tara

    welcome back here, friend. i like the space and quiet in these photos. xox

    (did i ever mention that my brother married into a Dutch family?)

  5. amberlee

    adore your blog, i have been meaning to stop by and comment forever.

    love the photos. totally beautiful. and the post too. there is nothing like meeting people who you share so much with

  6. Jacqui

    I love the last photo of that lovely couple! This post makes me want to visit the Philippines and see where my parents grew up and learn more about the culture that was such a big part of my own childhood. It also makes me want to visit the Netherlands!

  7. The Cozy Apron

    Ashley, thanks for sharing some of the personal moments from your trip; sometimes, the opportunity to spend precious time with loved ones in the “root” country can create a closeness and appreciation that may otherwise not have been experienced. Welcome back!

  8. Amy Tong

    What a wonderful post. Yes, nothing feels better than “going home”! I just took my kids to Hong Kong (my home country) last year for the very first time. So grateful that I did. 🙂 Thanks for sharing your experience and these beautiful pictures.

  9. jackie baisa

    The Netherlands is an amazing country and the Dutch are incredible. I lived on the border (on the Belgian side–Antwerp) but went there often, and have many Dutch friends. I have only had great experiences there. Lucky you, that you have family and a rooting in the culture.

  10. frederike

    I’m so surprised! I’ve been reading your blog for over a year without knowing you have Dutch roots! I’m Dutch, and your photos are so familiar too me! I grew up in the east-west of the Netherlands and me and my family used to go ice-skating in the winter whenever possible. I live in Belgium now but go ‘home’ once a month. Thank you for your beautiful words about ‘our

  11. Maureen

    As a Yank in Oz, I know exactly how you feel. The US is home but it isn’t. I just love my American roots and all my family is there. I eat from the moment I arrive til I leave. 🙂

  12. Denise

    As a Dutch girl, I love those see those pictures and see my country through the eyes of someone else. Glad you had a good time here. If you’ll visit again, I would love to meet:)

  13. sara

    ashley! These photos are so gorgeous. I especially love the last one. It really does sound like a special trip, and I’m sure your trip with gabe will be another fun experience. Live up that jetsetting life, pretty lady.

  14. Conny

    This post really hits “home” with me – I too am a “child” of Dutch parents! My childhood was different from many of my American counterparts in so many ways. At a high school reunion several years back someone remembered me as “the girl who brought chocolate sandwiches for lunch” in elementary school.

    I love that you shared this post with us. ~ Conny


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