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    Family Traditions: Baby Naming and Blessing

    October 19, 2006 by Brandy Vencel

    With the holidays creeping up, and a new baby on the horizon, I feel a bit of nostalgia hovering over our house. And I’m remembering all the traditions we’ve already built into our short family history. I think I will share a few of them in the near future, some of them on the serious side, and some of them invented just for fun.

    This first one has to do with how we name our children. I recently read a post by Herrick Kimball where he explains his belief that “it is good to give children family names or name them in honor of virtuous people. In the former case it connects and grounds a child to the family. In the latter it connects them to persons that you hope they will learn about and whose character they will emulate.”

    Though we did not use either of these methods {family members or famous people}, we do seek out names that connect our children to something bigger than themselves. But instead of tying them to another person through the name, we try to connect them to a certain virtue or group of virtues using the meaning of the name.

    Allow me to explain the process.

    First, we find out we’re pregnant. This is essential in baby naming. I’m serious! I often think about baby names when I’m not pregnant, but inevitably names I’ve entertained don’t “feel right” when I’m actually with child. Si and I often say that we don’t name our children as much as we discover what their name is. Part of the process is actually quite intuitive.

    Shortly after EPT confirms our suspicions, I usually get the urge to name the child. This is when Si starts to avoid me, fearing that I am not far enough along to be naming the baby. I can see his point. After all, we lost a baby once. Of course, I don’t think it hurt any more or less because the baby did or didn’t have a name. But I digress.

    Since I am the one with the naming urges, I am the one that puts together the official list of possible names. Our criteria for making the list looks like this:

     

    1. Must not be in the previous year’s Top 20, no matter how appealing we find it. We just don’t want Baby to be another Hadyn/Caden/Aiden or Haley/Raley/Kaylie on the playground, even though we loved the name Aiden way back before it was cool.
    2. Must sound good with our last name, especially if the baby is a boy and stuck with the last name for an entire lifetime.
    3. No weird spellings.
    4. No invented names.

     

    I think that about covers the criteria. At this point, I might have list of ten boy names and ten girl names. I usually give the list to Si and have him circle his three favorites, and see if there are any matches with my favorites. So far, we have always had matches. {When we were naming A., we only agreed on one name. When ultrasound time came, the name conveniently fit the fact that A. is a girl, so we never bothered to come up with an alternate.}

    Once we have matches, it is time for me to research the meanings of the names. BabyCenter has a number of helpful tools, including their babynamer. Name meanings are, as I mentioned, of the utmost importance to us. I remember once upon a time that Si and I both entertained the idea of the name Wesley for a boy. I still like the sound of the name. But I had no use for the meaning of the name {“the west meadow”}, and neither did Si, so it was automatically disqualified.

    After an ultrasound has convinced us of what sort of baby we’re being blessed with, we spend some weeks thinking and dreaming about our baby. About a month before the due date, we go on a date. The first time we did this, it was our first anniversary, and we went to Downtown Disney in the City of Anaheim. The second time, we went to Starbucks. Location doesn’t matter.

    On this date, we write Baby a blessing. The blessing begins by expressing our hopes for Baby’s salvation, and each child’s blessing has begun and will begin with the same line {these blessings are written as poetry, by the way}. The rest of the blessing is specific to the child and the meaning of that child’s first and middle names {middle names have to meet the requirements for meaning and spelling, but we do not worry about popularity as much}. We pray before we really get started, and then we spend time pulling out qualities implied by the name, and Bible verses that might elaborate upon that quality. In the end, we have a two-stanza poem of blessing.

    The first night after the baby is born, Si reads the blessing over the child, and that is our official naming ceremony.

    It is my hope to begin a tradition of creating some sort of plaque or wall hanging out of these blessings to give to the children on their fifth or sixth birthdays. I want them to be old enough to understand it, and young enough to be in awe of it. It is our hope that the children will rise to the occasion of their names, and see their blessing as a sort of calling on their life.

     

    Please notice I did not pray that you would be famous, that you would win the praises of men, that you would make a lot of money, that you would live in a big expensive home, that you would own a fancy car, that you would travel the world seeking thrills, or one exotic experience after another, that you would achieve a position of power and authority in the world’s structure, or even that you would live a life of ease. I did not ask the Lord for those things for you because they are not what is most important in this brief span of days we are allotted here on this earth. It’s all about faith, family,and living the good life—the good life as defined by He who created you and the world you live in. {Herrick Kimball}

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    4 Comments

  • Reply Rahime October 24, 2006 at 6:04 am

    I actually know someone who named their first kid by combining part of the mom’s name with part of the dad’s… if you were to do that you could have Bransiah or maybe Brandiah oooh, or Josandy. They ended up with a daughter named Kenette (from Kenji and Jenette). Then their three other daughters were named other variations like Kennae and Jenae. Oh, boy.

    My name means Grace, Mercy or Compassionate. (It’s actually one of the Arabic names for Allah.) It is a common name for men in parts of the world where Arabic is spoken or a where there is a large Muslim population. Rahim is the most common version and is a male name. The female version is derived by adding an a or e ending…so, Rahima, Rahema, Rahime or sometimes Rahimah are common for females.

    I was named after my mom’s college roommate who had a Turkish dad and American mom. Her family “Americanized” her name. She was the one who discipled my mom, so mom always said she’d name her first daughter after her.

    Glad to hear you’re not going for the made-up names…those drive me crazy.

  • Reply Brandy October 23, 2006 at 7:03 pm

    Rahime,
    Glad you liked it! Someday you will have to tell me what your name means…

    Dad,
    You still have about 7 weeks to accept this. It just takes time. 🙂

  • Reply comedyken October 23, 2006 at 6:59 pm

    I guess that means Kenlyn is out.

  • Reply Rahime October 21, 2006 at 8:34 pm

    Brandy,
    I enjoyed reading about your family’s naming tradition and the criteria you have for naming your children.

    I know that if I have children naming them is something I’ll put a lot of thought into…I think my list of requirements will be pretty extensive. I think a name can be a crucial part of a person’s identity and calling.

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