Wednesday, August 27, 2014

What's in a Name?

Anna June's class is doing an "All About Me" unit. Each night, homework is a discussion topic between the parents and child.

Last night, the discussion was supposed to center around the origin of the child's name.

The short answer is, we were thinking of baby names, and when one of us said, "Anna June," we knew that was the one. We loved it instantly, but we did not tell our family - something needed to be a surprise.

There is a much longer answer about where she got her name.

Starting with the basics, we wanted something that was definitely feminine. We are feminists, but wanted a name that was unmistakably for a girl. Androgynous names can be deceiving.

Next, we wanted something that was easy to pronounce. Shenandoah may roll off our tongues, but not everyone's. Don't get me started on how people pronounce Gallitz, either.

Finally, we wanted something with a standard spelling. Although both Anna and June have been spelled other ways, we are happy to go with the traditional versions.

We bought the baby name books. We discussed names we loved and hated. We wanted something that was simple, but not incredibly common. The combination of the two names worked for us, although I still remember my friend Leigh-Anne saying, "Bless her heart, you've double named her." I knew it would be challenging to get everyone to call her both names, but, well, it just fits. I once even posted about it when she was small - we call her AJ or Anna June.

It is nice that Anna is in the Bible, but that wasn't a real requirement. The origin of the word June is pretty ancient, too.

Anna June was actually named after five different people. First and foremost, she was named for her Granny, Annie (Anne) and my Grandmother Annette (Ann). Annie was named for her grandmother, Anna. My mother's first name is Diana, although she has never been called by it. Finally, my brother Drew's initials' are A.J., and he was called that sometimes. I told AJ it was good she was named after 5 people, since we're only planning on having the one kid.

June is just melodious, and it comes from a variety of places. We were married in the month of June, as were my parents. It is a beautiful (if hot) time of year in Birmingham. The roses (my favorite) are blooming, as well as the hydrangeas, unmatched for color, and the gardenias, unmatched for fragrance. School lets out. Beach trips begin. It's a great time to be alive - even if you weren't born in that month, which many people think AJ was. I have a friend named May who was born in July, so I don't think you have to name a kid after their birth month.

Besides the calendar, we drew inspiration from the John Hiatt song, "Everybody Went Low" off his 2001 release, The Tiki Bar is Open. If I remember correctly, we actually went and bought that album on the day it was released, September 11, 2001, thankful to be alive and uncertain of America's future. "Everybody Went Low" is the story of a conversation that tanks, and the hostess, Junie, revives it and everyone is alright again. Or at least that's my interpretation.

"So you're saying I was named for my great-great grandmother and a John Hiatt song?" Anna June asked.

Yes, that's what I am saying.

So each time someone says, "What a beautiful name!" I just smile and take the compliment.


Anonymous said...

I am SO VERY PLEASED and proud to be among the "Ann " Honorees, I can't even begin to tell you what that means to me , One of the true highlights of my life! Try to explain Nonnys' name to folks some time , I DIDN'T REALLY NAME HER AFTER MYSELF . It was a nod to my Grandma Anna again, and my Czech heritage.I guess that Nonny also is in the group of 'ANNEs", since basically, it means " Little Anna", or " dear little Anne". At least, AJ won't have the angst of everyone leaving that all important "E" off the end of her name. ( ala Anne of Green Gables). It took me a LONG time get comfortable with the "JUNE " part, as every time it was spoken, I conjured up " June Cleaver". Now , tho, I think it is lovely, and makes a beautiful combined name . Shenandoah will probably kill me , but I don't think ever heard the John HIatt song about "Junie" !!!!!!I will make it a point!! Or, he will ! At any point, AZJ's name is PERFECT for her , and my heart is FULL !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Anonymous said...

p.s.SO SORRY for the errant 'Z' in AJ!

bvigorda said...

Anna June is a great name and I also love the alternate of AJ. I also always loved the names Shenandoah and Nonny. When I was in my 30's I considered changing my name to Annie, so that gives you an idea of what I think of that name and any of it's alternates. Mostly, I just love the family I inherited through Jeff. Best people ever :-)

bvigorda said...

And that most definitely includes you, Miss Laura.