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?!