Monday, February 13, 2012

By Any Other Name

While watching a rerun of the hilarious British comedy "Keeping Up Appearances" on PBS recently, I got to thinking about the show's characters -- four sisters: Hyacinth, Rose, Daisy and Violet -- and about the resurgence of lovely, old-fashioned women's first names.  I had a beloved "Auntie Vi" as a child who rarely went by her given name of Violet, yet it was so lovely.  My grandparents had a next-door neighbor named Madeline whose first name intrigued me as a kid -- I thought it was mysterious and aristocratic, although Madeline herself was always pleasant and more than tolerant of five-year-old me.  My great-grandmother was named Ella.  Our neighbor was named Elsie and her aunt was named Emma.  For years, I associated those beautiful names with women of a certain age.  But today, those charmers have returned with youthful exuberance.  I now know a Madeline, an Emma and three Ellas.  I know a Grace or two -- all little or young girls.  It warms my heart to see such exquisite first names from the past being brought back to life by the likes of rosy-cheeked little girls and tall, slender teenagers.  Today's girls could just as easily be called by a name that ends in an "i" (such as mine and many others from my era), but I love how they are bringing new meaning and acceptance to first names of days gone by.  Wouldn't Great-Grandma Ella be pleased?!

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