Tuesday, March 27, 2012

All in the Family

It's been a while since I wrote about baby names.  One month and thirteen days exactly.  That post (here) was about Seraphina and Katniss.

Choosing a baby name is easy peasy for some people.  They've been brainstorming names for the past decade (or more) and had a top five boy and girl list before even becoming pregnant.  Others don't find the name selection process easy...or fun.  When you don't have a top anything list and you're not sure what names you like, much less love, it can be quite stressful to imagine narrowing the search to ONE.

For the latter group of people, there are a few methods for easing the process.  About a year ago I posted a huge list of these methods (here), but today I'm going to focus on one: choosing a family name (aka heritage name).  For sentimental folks who want to feel personally connected to the name, this is the best method.

Start the process by filling in the branches
(image here)

THE NAME - In order to find a family name that you love enough to choose for your child, you first need to learn your family names.  So, start by asking questions.  You likely know the name of your aunt and grandfather, but great uncles and great great grandparents might be unknowns.  Get a list going.  Your relatives can help you collect.  There's always one aunt who has a subscription to ancestry.com.  Give her a ring, she'll be thrilled.  Ask about first, middle and last names.  Ask about nicknames.  Back in the day (pre-electricity day) nicknames weren't obviously connected to full names.  Sissy was a nickname for Cecelia.  Kitt was a nickname for Christopher.

Sissy Spacek born as Mary Elizabeth Spacek

A NICKNAME - If you've done your research and you're not digging anything, don't fret yet.  I have a couple more suggestions.  Consider modern nicknames for the old school names.  Maybe you can't see yourself naming a daughter Henrietta after your great grand aunt.  But Etta is pretty cute.  Eleanor doesn't strike your fancy, but maybe you're a fan of Ellie?  Derivatives of the family name can carry on the sentimental value of the name, even if the derivative wasn't actually used as a nickname.  The newly formed nickname will be unique to your new family member and still an homage to your old family member.

SPECIAL LETTER - Still nothing?  Scrap the name.  Forget about the nickname.  Use the first letter of the name of a beloved relative.  You adore your grandpa Herman, but don't adore his name enough to pass it along to the next generation.  Check out other "H" names, there are plenty - Henry, Harrison, Hayden.  This works even if your loved your grandpa Herman and you have a little girl (Hazel, Hailey, Harlow).  

Any other creative ideas for using a family name without using a family name?  



Jessica Morris said...

I love family names for babies. My husband and I know for sure that if we ever have a son his name with be Anthony Daniel Morris (Anthony is a family name on both of our sides and Daniel is my father's name). I agree with perhaps tweaking the very old-fashioned sounding names. I once met a girl my age named Milicent who introduced herself while rolling her eyes and saying "I know, but someday I'll be the most kick-ass grandma". She probably feels the need to say that every time she meets someone new.

The Mrs./The Mom said...

I love family names! Both my brother and I have a family name and now my son has a family name. It's really the only list I've used to come up with names. Maybe I'm just old fashion.