As a child, I often visited my grandmother's house. It was always a wonderful mix of games and food and snuggled books on her lap. But best of all were her stories. Grandma Annie was an immigrant from Scotland and loved telling us about her upbringing, her culture, her memories. She was the red-headed middle child of 5 siblings and talked about her family most of all.
Annie had only an 8th grade education and went straight to work after she finished her schooling. She enjoyed working and sometimes treated herself to the latest fashion with her earnings. Mostly she enjoyed dressing up - a great hat with a plume, shoes polished daily, her tangerine sweater. She loved that sweater. And she wasn't the only one. Her younger sister, Margaret, loved it as well. Margaret was 12 years Annie's junior. Imagine the joy in a little girl's heart when her 20 year old sister was away working, leaving her to play dress-up in her big sister's clothes. Annie did not appreciate her younger sister's playful dress-up spirit and forbade Margaret from touching her things.
But while Annie was working, their mother would allow Margaret to dress-up, sporting Annie's beloved tangerine sweater. The second Annie touched the front door, Margaret would streak down the hall, up the stairs, and into their room to return the sweater to its place in Annie's bureau. Dress-up time was then over. Annie would see that tangerine streak as she entered her home and be livid with both her sister and mother. Fashionistas, however, will be fashionistas.
My 96 year old Aunt Margaret died this week, the exact age my grandmother was when she passed away 12 years ago. She was close to our family and had been very sweet with my young daughter, giving her gifts of dolls and, of course, clothes. She recently gave Lexi a hot watermelon sweater, with crystal buttons and lacy flowers. When I hung it up from a huge pile of dress-up carnage, I couldn't help but think of that tangerine streak and the fascinating life Margaret led, and how fortunate I am to have heard her stories, which I can now share with my daughter. Lexi will then know from where her fashionista roots stem, generation after generation of girls playing dress-up.