What’s In A Name?
Doing a genealogy would be so much easier if my many ancestors were not enamored of the same names. In the 4, 488 names and the 1, 682 families on my family tree in 30 generations, there are certain names that keep recurring:
Christian and Christ
John (or Hans or Jean)
Peter (or Pierre)
Jacob (or Jacques)
Marie (or Maria)
In addition, when one child would die, they would often name another child the same name. My grandparents did that! Maybe they had such large families that they couldn’t think of another name. More likely it was because they wanted to honor a parent or grandparent.
Once in a while there is a surprise – Annali was a surprise to me. I like it. If I ever have another baby I will name her Annali. Of course, that is not only not likely but not possible. Mmmm often suggests that we have another child, I think because we had such fun with the first one.
There seems to be a generational thing with names. If the child is named Cyndee or Mitzi or Apple or something very avant garde, the next generation is often Emma or Jacob or Joshua. When I hear of a name that is difficult to spell or is so unusual I always think of the child entering kindergarten and having to learn to spell and print that name.
I have been called Jan since I was about 16. My given name is Arleen Janet but that handsome guy I met said that I didn’t look like an Arleen and started calling me Jan. Even my birth family calls me Jan. Only the IRS, the Social Security administration and the HMO calls me Arleen. When an unsolicited call comes in and someone asks for Arleen, I know it isn’t anyone that has met me.
We had a hard time deciding what to name our daughter. We had narrowed the field to Katherine, Elizabeth or Margaret. Every day the nurse would come into my room at the hospital and ask for the baby’s name and I would confess that we hadn’t decided. Finally she asked, “Didn’t you know you were having a baby?” When we took the baby home, I had a hard time remembering what name we had finally chosen and I would ask myself, “Did we name her Katherine or Margaret?” Of course it is Katherine but she has been Kay since she came home from the hospital and I think it suits her. She suits me.
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