What’s in a name?

I didn’t fully realize the responsibility of picking a name until we had our first child. Of course, we wanted the perfect name. What was noble, what would last, what would be dignified in later years? Did we go for popular or classic? Was there a family name to continue? Could we honor God with the name we chose? Eventually we settled on Christopher—Christ bearer. And it was perfect.

Our daughter’s name came more easily. We named her Carrie after my great aunt who had been a pioneer in Minnesota. A strong, fearless woman who lived in the wilderness with her husband and faced countless hardships bravely, my aunt was a liberated woman long before it was fashionable. I knew our baby girl would have a good start in life with a namesake so powerful.

So, when I started my first novel,  I approached the name of the main character with some trepidation.  She was like another baby. Beloved and special, she needed a special name.  As it happened, she has evolved over the months I’ve worked on the book. She started as Katherine, but as her personality became apparent to me, she morphed into someone entirely different. Katherine became Kate who became Louella. Louella became Lou. Lou became Lulu. And I knew that was perfect. She is Lulu.

Thinking of perfect names brought back a precious memory. Years ago, my sister-in-law, Judi, was expecting her first baby and our whole family was eager with anticipation. That was particularly true of our five year old, Carrie.

One day, Carrie and I were browsing in a specialty shop featuring home decorating items. As a struggling new reader, Carrie loved sounding out words as she encountered them but she had hit a stumbling block. We discovered some ornate silver liquor labels—the kind that hang on decanters to define the contents. While examining them,  she was confronted with unfamiliar terms…”Scotch” “Whiskey” “Brandy”. She scowled trying to figure out each syllable until her face brightened and she triumphantly said, “Oh, Mommy!” I hope Judi has a girl and they name her “Gin” so that we can send her one of these necklaces.”

Judi did have a girl. Amazingly enough, however, they did NOT name her “Gin.” But our family has enjoyed the story for many years, and it shows that even young children can value finding the perfect name.

Bev.

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