In an old house in Paris that was covered in vines,
Lived twelve little girls in two straight lines.
In two straight lines they broke their bread,
They brushed their teeth, they went to bed.
They left the house at half past nine.
Rain or shine, two straight lines,
The smallest one was Madeline.
Those are the first few lines of every Madeline story ever written. No, I didn’t copy those from wikipedia, or reference my Madeline anthology. Those seven lines are stuck in my brain for good. What’s a Madeline story? It’s a story, written and illustrated by Ludwig Bemelman, about a little red-headed girl named Madeline, and her adventures in and out of a Parisian boarding school. Though the books were published in the 1940s, they dominated the 90s for me. Every year at Christmas for nearly a decade, I’d recieve a new Madeline doll. Every doll had the same distinctive traits – stringy red hair, a crooked smile, and a little scar on her tummy (left over from her appendectomy in book one).
For this reason, I was delighted when a co-worker offered this observation on my outfit “You look like Madeline!” Of course, I had to be “that guy” and tell her that Madeline’s trademark outfit was a blue coat with a yellow hat, but I still see what she was saying. I didn’t tell her, though, that while I don’t get a new Madeline doll for Christmas anymore, I do set up my collection like a weirdo in front of the tree every year.
That’s what traditions do: they morph. Tomorrow, even though it’s tradition to celebrate Christmas Eve in Georgetown with my family, we may very well host the gang at my old house, covered in vines (as both my sister and my parents are still without power from the CRAZY-ASS ice storm that skipped downtown Hamilton). While I haven’t really prepared for that, I have set up my Madeline dolls in the back of the living room, just in case my nieces want to play with them while the grown-ups play wine-infused Catchphrase. That would seem a very nice take on tradition, I think.
To borrow a few more words from Madeline: That’s all there is; there isn’t any more.
Merry Christmas, everyone!
Angora Hat: Salvation Army | $2.99
Sweater: Salvation Army | $5.99
Blouse: Salvation Army | $1.99
Skirt: Talize | $9.99
Booties: Talize / $12.99