Abe Lincoln’s son

My husband is reading a book about Abraham Lincoln right now (Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln; he loves it), and was telling me about his son Tad. He said he didn’t know the boy’s given name, though he assumed it was Thaddeus, and asked me if I would look it up to be sure.

Any time my husband asks me to do name research, I drop everything and scurry off to do it, so rare is it and so delighted am I to have any kind of name conversation with him ever.🙂

I discovered that Tad Lincoln’s given name was Thomas! He was nicknamed Tad because his dad thought he was “as wiggly as a tadpole” when he was a baby. How cute is that! To me, that makes Tad very doable as a nickname for a Thomas in a more “official” way because there’s a precedent for it. Do you agree? What do you think of Tad as a nickname for Thomas?

Miscarried baby’s name stolen?

A friend sent me this story yesterday, and I’m still thinking about it: ‘Don’t Talk About the Baby’ #ShatterTheStigma

Long story short: The author and his wife named their just-conceived baby Lydia Rose, and then lost her at 8 1/2 weeks. I know, as so many of you do, the devastation of miscarriage; mine was even earlier than the author’s, and yet it’s still fresh nine years later. I know you know! Later on (not sure how long) the author’s brother and his wife informed them that they would be naming their soon-to-be-born baby Lydia, which crushed the author and his wife, and despite them begging the in-laws to reconsider, the in-laws went ahead with naming their baby Lydia. Which led to the author and his wife basically cutting off ties with their family and even moving several states away.

The author’s very very sensitive about this topic, which makes me hesitate to even discuss it here, but since he wrote about it on his Patheos blog (so public! eek!) and it has to do with Catholic baby naming and a friend (who’s also a reader) asked me about it, I thought it made sense to post it.

We’ve talked here before about “name stealing,” and the example given in that post was a pretty emotional one involving family relationships; I’ve also shared my own story about asking my brother and his wife if they minded if we used a name I thought they might have been hoping to use (and we were committed to foregoing the name if it meant a possible family rift). Even still, I’m sort of blown away by the depth of grief this couple is still going through, years after the loss of the baby. I tried to imagine being in the same spot, but I just can’t see myself being so upset if my brother and his wife had wanted to use the same name for their son as we’d given to our baby. Of course everyone grieves in their own way, and just because I can’t imagine myself reacting similarly doesn’t mean they’re reacting wrongly. But I can’t help but think that talking about it all with a priest or even a mental health professional would be helpful (and maybe they already have). Dear St. Anne, please pray for this couple and their whole family!

What do you all think of this? Do any of you feel like you can understand where they’re coming from? If Mandi from A Blog About Miscarriage is reading, I wonder what your thoughts are and if you have any resources that might be helpful for a family in this situation?

Prepare ye the way of the Lord (Advent names)

I’ve had “Prepare ye the way of the Lord” in my head the last few days, which is such a lovely Adventy thing to have in my head now that Advent has begun, and what better way for a name blogger to celebrate Advent than by making a list of Advent names!

At least, that was my intention — and not just Advent names, but *new* names, not the same names everybody has written about forever and ever for babies born this time of year — but I had a hard time coming up with anything new! So many of the names that could qualify as Advent names are also legitimately Christmas names, and I’ve written about Christmas names a few times already (see the end of the post for a list), so I didn’t want to rehash or repackage the same names over again. (Also, even though I didn’t package it that way my Nameberry article from last year is explicitly Adventy, since it refers to titles of the coming Messiah as noted by Isaiah in the context of the O Antiphons — it’s all prophecy and anticipation about Christmas.)

That said, I just have to say that I think there are some Christmas names that just *are* Advent names, and no Advent list would be complete without them, like Mary, Joseph, Emmanuel (is O Come O Come Emmanuel not one of the most Adventy of songs?), Gabriel, John and Baptist, Elizabeth, Zechariah, and Belén (the Spanish for Bethlehem) or even Bethlehem itself, so if you’re looking for an Advent name, don’t ignore the lists of Christmas names.

I was able to come up with a few new ideas though, and this site was incredibly helpful, as it explained a bunch of things about Advent that I actually didn’t already know, like how the first Sunday of Advent is set (it’s not actually the Sunday after Thanksgiving, as I might have mindlessly thought for a long time … I mean, it *is* the Sunday after Thanksgiving, but that’s not how it’s set of course, since most of the world doesn’t celebrate Thanksgiving but they do celebrate Advent), and also what each of the candles means and represents. Based on those things, as well as some of my own ideas, here are some Advent names that you may not find on any list of Christmas names:

Andrew: Currently, the first Sunday of Advent is set on the first Sunday near the feast of St. Andrew (Nov. 30). Did you already know that? I didn’t! How cool!

Catherine: This is definitely a little bit of a stretch, but St. Catherine of Siena was known to be so joyful as a child that she was nicknamed Euphrosyne, which is Greek for “joy,” and between the “Rejoice” of Gaudete Sunday (the third Sunday of Advent, when we light the third [pink] candle) and the fact that the third candle is called the Candle of Joy, a Joy name is quite appropriate for Advent (it’s already on lists of Christmas names). You could certainly use Euphrosyne, but I thought Catherine might be a bit easier!

Isaiah: This Old Testament prophet foretold the coming of the Messiah and shared all those amazing titles of the Messiah as remembered in the O Antiphons (see my Nameberry article for more on those).

Lydia: Lydia in the New Testament was a seller of purple cloth — this could be a subtle connection to the three purple candles of the Advent wreath.

Old Testament ancestors of Jesus: I wrote about Jesus’ genealogy here and here — using one of His ancestors’ names is a neat way of nodding to the centuries of preparation for the first Christmas.

Rose: Of course Rose always refers to Our Lady, but it can also refer to the pink candle on the Advent wreath, lit on the third Sunday of Advent aka Gaudete Sunday (Gaudete=Rejoice).

And jumping out of alphabetical order, maybe the craziest+coolest idea: Rorate Caeli/Coeli. As explained by the Catholic Encyclopedia at New Advent:

(Vulgate, text), the opening words of Isaiah 45:8. The text is used frequently both at Mass and in the Divine Office during Advent, as it gives exquisite poetical expression to the longings of Patriarchs and Prophets, and symbolically of the Church, for the coming of the Messias. Throughout Advent it occurs daily as the versicle and response at Vespers. For this purpose the verse is divided into the versicle, “Rorate coeli desuper et nubes pluant justum” (Drop down dew, ye heavens, from above, and let the clouds rain the just), and the response: “Aperiatur terra et germinet salvatorem” (Let the earth be opened and send forth a Saviour”). The text is also used: (a) as the Introit for the Fourth Sunday in Advent, for Wednesday in Ember Week, for the feastof the Expectation of the Blessed Virgin, and for votive Masses of the Blessed Virgin during Advent; (b) as a versicle in the first responsory of Tuesday in the first week of Advent; (c) as the first antiphon at Lauds for the Tuesday preceding Christmas and the second antiphon at Matins of the Expectation of the Blessed Virgin; (d) in the second responsory for Friday of the third week of Advent and in the fifth responsory in Matins of the Expectation of the Blessed Virgin.”

The nickname Rory could totally make Rorate as a first name doable! What do you think? Crazy? Cool? Both?

In a fun twist, Haley from Carrots for Michaelmas tweeted me (tweeted to me?) yesterday asking about my Advent names post, which was so weird since I was thinking about this as-yet unwritten one! But then I listened to her and Christy’s latest Fountains of Carrots podcast and realized they had mentioned it there, and I think they were referring to that same O Antiphons Nameberry article I’ve referred to several times here.

This is another post and article I wrote about Christmas names, which also contain good Advent ideas:

Holy Family Names for Christmastime Babies (Catholic Mom)

Names for a Christmas baby

And this post is the most comprehensive I’ve ever come across, containing both familiar and surprising ideas (not written by me): Christmas Baby Names

What do you think of these Advent names? Would you consider them for an Advent baby, or are they too un-obvious for your taste? I’d love to know what unexpected/new names you can add to the list!

Baby name consultant: Rainbow baby needs a meaningful name

Today’s consultation is for a bilingual family living in Canada who are expecting their fifth baby — a little boy. The mama writes,

I am Belgian (francophone) and my husband is American (anglophone) and we live in Montreal, a very bilingual city. We might very well come back to the US eventually, but we need to consider that our kids could live in a French speaking society as well. We want our kids’ names to be written the same in both languages as much as possible (at least their first names), but we don’t mind if the pronunciation differs (so no Luc/Luke, but Colin was ok). We want them to have a clear patron saint.

[Because of our last name] I have a little problem with names ending in “elle” because of the repetition.

Our fourth baby died of SIDS last August and I have been toying with the idea of honoring him in our “rainbow” baby’s name. Maybe by including St.Gerard who allowed us to baptise Thomas 3 days before his unexpected death? Our 5th child is expected for early December.”

What a sadness this family has been through! I really like the idea of using a Saint’s name who had a special connection with the baby in heaven, and I have some other ideas how to connect to their little Thomas as well (below).

Their older kiddos’ names are:

Claire Marie-Therese
Vincent Nathaniel
Colin Matthew
Thomas Francis

I love each one! Such a handsome set of names!

The mama continues,

We’re not really excited by anything we’ve thought up yet, and I admit I actually have a hard time bonding with this new little one and spending time thinking about it. Maybe an awesome name will help! I’m looking forward to hearing your ideas!

I’m so happy we can help this mama by coming up with name ideas!

Alrighty, so jumping right in, you all know that I almost always start a consultation by looking up the names the parents have used and those they like in the Baby Name Wizard as it lists, for each entry, boy and girl names that are similar in terms of style/feel/popularity (according to the American naming landscape, which may not be so accurate for this family, but hopefully it’s helpful!), and I was somewhat surprised when I looked up Claire, Vincent, Colin, and Thomas, as there was more overlap than I expected! These parents have very consistent taste!

Okay! Between my research in the BNW and my own mental files, these are my ideas for this family’s new little guy:

(1) Blaise
My first few ideas are based on style matches for the other kids as listed in the BNW. Blaise is similar in style to Claire and Vincent, and it gets a good amount of love from families I hear from/talk to. And it’s a French name! I assume it’s pronounced the same in French and English?

(2) Julien
Julian did quite well for this family as well, being similar to Claire and Vincent. It’s a great name for a boy, and I think it would fit in well with the other kids. I assume they’d prefer the French spelling Julien?

(3) Grant
I was surprised by Grant! It’s a match for Claire and Vincent, and I was thinking that, if Mom and Dad liked it, they could attach a meaning to it that would be quite appropriate for them, and could be a nod to their Thomas. One possibility might be in Job 6:8, when he says, “Oh, that I might have my request, and that God would grant what I long for” (which is consolation in knowing he never disobeyed or disrespected God, even though he went through “unremitting pain”). Another is the beginning of the Serenity Prayer: “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference.” I think both speak in a gentle and wonderful way to the sadness of losing their Thomas.

(4) Tristan
Tristan was another match for them (Vincent, Claire) that I thought might be nice as a nod to Thomas because of starting with the same first letter—some families honor others this way. Then I remembered that its meaning is often associated with sadness, which could be perfect, or maybe falls too much into the “burdensome for the new baby to bear” category. I am loving Tristan Gerard.

(5) Bennett
My last idea for this family is Bennett. It’s a variant of Benedict (Benedict seemed a bit too heavy for them I thought), which means “blessed” — a lovely meaning for a rainbow baby. It’s also a style match for Claire!

And those are all my ideas! What do you all think? Given these parents’ older kiddos’ great names, and the loss of their little Thomas, what would you suggest for their little boy?

Great TV names that “evoke an image”

I hope you all had a great Thanksgiving!! I remain ever so grateful for all of you!!❤

Something fun today — a reader emailed me with the following question:

[M]y husband and I watch the TV show The Blacklist, in which the main character Elizabeth named her daughter Agnes at the end of the last season. I also noticed that in Gray’s Anatomy one of the couples (can’t remember their names, I just get glimpses of this show when hubs watches) named their baby Harriett. I wondered if you had any thoughts about TV show baby names/”bringing back old lady names”, whether Catholicky or not. It may not be a trend at all, if I just happen to have noticed the two times it happened in recent TV…I haven’t looked further into it, because the amount of TV is too overwhelming!

Ohhh goodness, I feel that way too: “the amount of TV is too overwhelming!” My parents and my hubs and I are always on the lookout for a good show, and I personally find myself often overwhelmed at the number of options and the number of suggestions by family and friends. Not a terrible problem to have!

Anyway, back to this lovely reader’s question, I responded:

[O]n the one hand, I feel like TV writers try to get a feel for how the trends are going and maybe get ahead of the next big trend if they can? And maybe them introducing the names that might have been the next big ones anyway (based on the fact that I think it takes two generations for names to stop feeling dated and start feeling vintage or something like that) cements them, or really gets it started?

And then I took to Twitter, tagging Duana because she’s an actual TV writer!

tvnames1

And she said:

tvnames2a

tvnames3

tvnames2

So fun to get inside TV naming a little, right? That phrase — “a name that evokes an image” — has been going around in my head the last couple days, and I kept thinking of TV names that I thought were bang-on (at least for me):

Frasier and Niles Crane and Lilith from Frasier (and Frasier and Lilith were originally on Cheers)

Both the first names and the last name of the Crane brothers say to me “pretentious, meticulous, Ivy League.” I have long been in love with these characters’ names, they’re so perfect! And could Lilith — the name of a scary demon in Jewish tradition — be the perfect name for a hated ex-wife character? Um, yes! (My husband thought I should include Daphne Moon, but I’ve never felt the name was quite right for her. I mean yes, they attempted to show her as a little flaky and with the whole “third eye” thing, which the name Daphne Moon does fit, but I never felt like they were successful with portraying her that way — I always thought she was wiser and more serious/grounded than her name suggests.)

Chandler Bing, Rachel Green, Phoebe, Joey from Friends

For both Chandler and Rachel, it’s the last names that do it for me — Bing is just kind of goofy; Green is “inexperienced” — both seem perfect for their characters, with Green being especially good for how Rachel joined the group. Phoebe is both nature-y, being the name of a bird and the sound of its call, and goddess-y, being the name of a Titan goddess, and therefore is really great for a hippie-type character (though I don’t like that I know some people who won’t consider it for their own daughters because of the name being so connected to that character. But it is biblical and Grace’s Phoebe is doing wonders for the name and Friends ended over ten years ago [and aired over twenty years ago — wha??]). And Joey. Is there a better name for a good-guy buddy with simple tastes?

Steve Urkel on Family Matters and Topanga on Boy Meets World

These two are listed together of course because both shows were on the TGIF lineup when I was a teen and though my parents rarely let us watch anything other than the G-est of G-rated shows, we did all gather for these Friday night shows and we loooooved them (if you know my brothers, don’t let them tell you differently!). Urkel is just the best last name for this nerdy character with the nasally voice! And Topanga was perfect for the child of hippy dippy parents.

Michael and Linc on Prison Break

Michael — not Mike — is serious like his name and a good/wholesome protective defender like St. Michael; Linc (in the context of the show) makes me think of chain-link fences and prison. Though I don’t love Lincoln and Michael as brother names, just because they have different feels, I do love Linc and Michael as these two jail-bird (but good-guy) brothers.

Jim, Michael Gary Scott, Dwight Kurt Schrute from The Office

Jim is a great name for his character I think — just your normal guy in a normal, not-exciting job (contrarily, I’ve always HATED Pam’s name — not the name, just the name for her — it just always struck me as inappropriate for her age and without the appropriate image to make up for it. Pamela went from barely top 1000 in 1925 to #10 in 1953 and then slid slowly down again, though it didn’t drop out of the top 100 until 1984. So yes, it’s conceivable that Pam could have been named Pam, but it just always felt too 1953 to me, and what does 1953 hope to convey? But then the girl in The Fockers was Pam, so maybe I’m all off). Michael is such a versatile name, but I love that he was always Michael (unless he was Prison Mike 😂), which was really good for a boss that tried hard to be the boss, and I love that his middle name was Gary — the whole thing first+middle+last combo was just so him. And Dwight strikes me as kind of nerdy (no offense to any non-nerdy Dwights!), but also the staccato cadence of the full Dwight Kurt Schrute (as well as the Germanness of Kurt and Schrute) is very militaristic and goose-steppy, so perfect for him.

Leonard, Sheldon, Howard on Big Bang Theory

They’re three geeky, socially awkward twenty-something scientists, and I think these names convey that immediately! (Not if they were on older men, mind you, just on young men.)

Lorelai on Gilmore Girls

This one is iffy. I do find it hard to believe that her parents would name a daughter Lorelai — it’s so perfect for her — kind of creative and funky — but not perfect for those parents to have chosen. However, I do appreciate that they explained Lorelai was her dad’s name — that does strike me as very them, to choose an old family name.

Those are just the ones that came to me over the last few days as particularly good — I’d love to know what TV character names you think perfectly evoke the image the character embodies! I’m being pretty strict here — I want *just* TV character names, not movie or book character names — I think (tell me if you disagree!) there is/can be a difference between how characters on TV/in movies/in books are named (I’ll do other posts on those later).

(Don’t forget to check out the Sancta Nomina marketplace for any of your Black Friday shopping!🙂 )

Birth announcement: Azalea Therese!

I posted a consultation for Rebekah from Treasuring the Little Things back in September, and she’s let me know that her little girl has arrived and been given the gorgeous name … Azalea Therese!

Rebekah writes,

Hi Kate!

I am writing to let you know that our 5th baby arrived on October 13! We named her Azalea Therese, and she is mostly called Zellie. In the end, we decided to just go with a name that we all loved, and it suits her so well :)  Thanks so much for your help!

What an amazing first+middle combo!! So very Martin!!🙂❤ I love that they just went “with a name that [they] all loved” and that they feel “it suits her so well” — what a perfect ending to a naming story!

If you remember, Baby Zellie joins big sibs:

Maria Margaret
Felicity Rose
William Patrick Peter
Augustine John (Gus)

Such a beautifully named bunch of kiddos!! Congratulations to the whole family, and happy birthday Baby Zellie!!

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Azalea Therese

Birth announcement: Margaret Thérèse!

A mama I did a private consultation for has let me know her little girl has arrived and been given the beeeauutiful name … Margaret Thérèse!

She writes,

Thank you so much for your help! I just wanted to let you know our little girl arrived on November 7th and we named her Margaret ‘Greta’ Thérèse!

Greta!! I love love love Greta as a nickname for Margaret!! And the full Margaret Thérèse is just gorgeous! This little lady joins her beautifully named big sisters:

Clara Grace
Annelise Rose

What an amazing set of sisters! Congratulations to the whole family, and happy birthday Baby Greta!!

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Margaret Thérèse