Friday, 21 September 2012

Heidi, La Niña de las Montañas


Bear with me. I swear there is a point here somewhere...

There are some names that orbit around me that I never notice, until I suddenly do... and then nearly break down in tears in the middle of a shop filled with worried looking people. While I was on holiday I decided to thoroughly spoil my god-daughter. There's nothing I like buying her more than books (okay, maybe shoes, but that child is obsessed with shoes), so I took her to the local bookshop. I'm looking at rows and rows of books, trying to find one that is both educational and fun (it doesn't exist), when I came across Heidi. It seemed so familiar, like I'd seen the illustrations before. I'm standing there, holding a two-year old's sweaty hand, flicking through these pages filled with images of a little girl in a red and pink dress. And it hits me. I swear, it was like I was five years old and images were flashing before my eyes. 

One of my very first memories is of that little girl wearing that dress, with the short brown-black hair, and the little lamb. I hadn't thought about Heidi since I was about five years old. It may seem really silly, but I was nearly overcome with tears. Heidi took me back to a time where everything seems covered in hazy, fuzzy-warm afternoon sunshine. Now I get the same feelings whenever I think about the the main character's name. Heidi went from being just pretty, I guess, to being loveliness wrapped up in a big ball of sweet candyfloss.

Although I knew of the cartoon series, I didn't know that it was based on a novel written by Swiss author Johanna Spyri, published in 1880. It was the success of the book combined with its 1937 film adaptation that brought the name Heidi into use. It is a German diminutive of Adelheid, meaning 'noble kind' or 'noble sort', the Dutch and German form of Adelaide. Heidi has done well in the England&Wales, breaking into the top 100 in 2009 and slowly making its way up to #91 in 2011. It fits in well with the other short, sweet, and distinctly feminine names popular here, such as Evie, Lily, Poppy, Daisy and Holly.

Heidi, therefore, doesn't at all fit my usual style, but it has sentimental value. My favourites list is ever changing, but my reasons for loving Heidi will forever stay the same. I think we like certain names because of how they sound, but we love others because of how they make us feel. In the end, names become stamped with thoughts and memories, and no shaking it about will ever truly change how we perceive a name that has made some sort of impact in our lives. Names that have personal meaning to us will never be passing fancies.

This is my Heidi, in Spanish and all. Just how I remember it. And the song! It's like I'm in 1995 again. Please excuse me while I go give my tear ducts a work out.

Image: Heidi and a Goat by Jessie Willcox Smith