A Few Charms (Banner)

A Few Charms (Banner)

Thursday, 22 May 2014

With a little help from my friends

You probably know the story of the Princess and the Pea, but do you know the story of the Princess and the Tulip?

When the Germans invaded the Netherlands in 1940, the Dutch Royal Family fled to the safety of England - which was not much safer due to the aerial bombing. Queen Wilhelmina decided to send her daughter and heir, Princess Julianna, and her two small children, to Canada. Under the greatest of secrecy, Princess Juliana and her children were driven to Wales to board a Dutch ship headed for Canada.

The family found a safe harbour in Ottawa, the capital of Canada, and the city where I now live. In 1943 Margriet was born in a hospital that's walking distance from my home. However, in order to inherit the throne of the Netherlands, the heir had to be born on Dutch soil - so the maternity ward was declared international territory.

During the Nazi occupation, the birth of the princess provided a boost to the Dutch people, and her name Margriet (Daisy) was a symbol of resilience and strength. Not long after, Canadian troopers liberated the Netherlands and the princesses returned home. In 1945 the Dutch Royal Family sent 100,000 tulip bulbs to Ottawa in gratitude for sheltering the family. The tulip became a gift in perpetuity, and the Royal family continues to donate 10,000 tulip bulbs each year to the Canadian people.

Ottawa now has the largest tulip festival in the world, where there are 1 million tulips in bloom each May. I've included some photos I took at the festival last weekend. And the tulip remains a symbol of international friendship.

I consider myself very fortunate to have developed some truly wonderful international friendships through collecting Pandora charms. When I first started my Pandora journey I couldn't believe the posts I was seeing on Facebook about virtual strangers sending money to each other to buy charms! But when I was struggling to get through each day it provided me with a strange sense of hope. Planning which charms I might want to buy, from places as far-flung as Portugal or Australia, gave me something to look forward to - when I didn't feel that there WAS much to look forward to! And when I was ready, many of my friends helped me find retired charms from around the world.

The only problem was, I would beat myself up because I didn't feel like I was BEING a good friend.  When you struggle with depression it can be hard to do even the most basic thing, like answering messages, getting out to a store, figuring out how to package a charm for mailing, or getting to the post office - and it can all feel a little overwhelming! So last winter I did manage to "get it together" and help some Pandora friends, and I rewarded myself with this tulip charm with the aquamarine dangle. And I wear it on my Lucerne Recovery bracelet to remind me that "I'm not perfect but I am able to be a good friend." This charm represents all the international friends I have made through Pandora and all the support and encouragement they have all given me over the last two years as I shared with them my recovery from an eating disorder and depression.


Do you have the tulip charm? What does it represent for you?

By the way, that part of the story about Margriet is making me think maybe a daisy charm would be good to represent resilience and strength.

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