Welcome to Holland

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"Welcome to Holland" is an essay, written in 1987 by Emily Perl Kingsley, about having a child with a disability. The piece is given by many organizations to new parents of children with special needs.

The essay, written in the second person, employs a metaphor of excitement for a vacation to Italy that becomes a disappointment when the plane lands instead in 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."

The metaphor is that the trip to Italy is a typical birth and child-raising experience, and that the trip to Holland is the experiencing of having and raising a child with special-needs.

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."

In the end, however, the reader sees that the "trip" is still well worth it:

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.

In 2004, Will Livingston wrote a song loosely based on the story, also titled "Welcome to Holland".

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