Keep laughing to help you stay young

“I am Eloise. I am six. I’m a city child. I live at the Plaza Hotel, which is huge and wonderful and tres elegant, especially at Christmastime.”
Thus, I was introduced to precocious, fun-loving, generous Eloise.
Of course, I knew about the “Eloise” books, written by Kay Thompson and beautifully illustrated by Hillary Knight. But I really hadn’t read the books carefully.
After all, they are recommended for children aged four-eight!
But I was delighted when I recently watched “Eloise at the Plaza” and “Eloise at Christmastime.”
Eloise is a charming little six-year-old girl who lives with Nanny (played by Julie Andrews) in New York City’s Plaza Hotel while her mother travels the world. Also living with Eloise and Nanny are a dog named “Weenie” and a turtle named “Skipperdee.”
Because of her infectious spirit, Eloise is loved by everyone—by almost everyone, that is. Sometimes, Eloise tries the patience of the hotel staff as she meddles, tries to fix relationships between people, adjusts the hotel clocks, and wheedles an invitation to a debutante ball.
But as mischievous as she is, Eloise is always helpful and caring. She trusts herself. And it seems sometimes that she has more insight than many adults.
The 2003 movies are fun for any age.
Eloise is played by a little girl who bears a striking resemblance to Hillary Knight’s drawings. The young actress is Sofia Vladimirovna Vassilieva.
At the time the movies were made, Sofia was nine and 10 years old. Now at age 15, she is a petite 5’3”.
Sofia loved making the Eloise movies. Speaking of the filming, she says, “It was like a long vacation, a 54-day vacation.”
“There is work, and there is pleasure. Acting is pleasure.”
It’s something that Sofia wants to do as long as she lives.
Like Eloise, Sofia was a precocious child. At three, she began reading French, Russian, and English. She also started ballet lessons at three, gymnastics at five, piano at seven, and horseback riding at 10.
Sofia’s intellect obviously comes from her family. Her mother holds a doctorate in Evolutionary Genetics while her father holds a doctorate in Cosmic Ray Physics.
Recently the young actress said, “I would like to learn so many things: I’d like to take tennis classes, I’d like continuing vocal lessons, and I’d definitely like taking more ice skating and more tap.
“I’d like to really learn painting, and I’d like to learn Tibetan . . . I would like to learn so many things. But I just barely have enough time to do what I am doing now.”
Like Eloise, Sofia is ageless!
She is a good role model for persons of all ages. “I want to be challenged, I want to work, and I want to feel that I am not being held back, that there is something in front of me, something more inspiring.”
How’s that for a goal for older people. And speaking of aging, Sofia says, “As long as you can laugh, you are not old.”
So this Christmas season, why not recapture the true spirit of the holidays by watching the Eloise movies. And like Eloise, you no doubt will be inspired to say, “I absolutely love Christmas!”
Marie Snider is an award-winning health care writer and syndicated columnist. Write her at or visit

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