I’ve had a few people comment on how I always offer nickname suggestions for the names I discuss on here. On the one end, some say they’re not big nicknamers — they prefer their child to be called by the name that they gave him or her. On the other, some say they love nicknames, and have commented on a few of the more unusual/nontraditional ones I’ve suggested as ones they really like and had never thought of. I’m sure there are those of you in the middle — yeah, a good nickname can be cool, but you’re not stressed over pinning down the right one. Or you won’t not choose a name you like because you can’t think of a great nickname.
I totally get it! All of those perspectives! But I thought it might be helpful to detail why I focus so much on offering as many nickname options as I can think of.
For one thing, my family is made up of unrelenting nicknamers. I say that in the most affectionate way possible, because I love a good nickname, but unrelenting we are. For example, my mom and I were talking to a friend recently who is expecting her third boy. We asked her if she and her husband had decided on a name yet and she said yes, and so happily told us their selection, and we said, “How nice! And what are you going to call him?” and our friend’s face sort of froze in place, with the smile still there but a look behind it that said, “Didn’t I just tell you what we’re calling him?!”
Some people are just not nicknamers, and that is so totally fine, totally cool. Mom and I quickly laughed and assured her we will be just delighted to call the baby by his name and poked fun at our own selves for being crazy nicknamers and she laughed and all was jolly and forgiven. (I hope.)
That wouldn’t fly in my family, though. In my family, if the parents of the baby don’t decide what nickname they want the baby to be called, the baby will very likely end up with a nickname that the parents might not like. So my husband and I carefully — and with great fun — weighed each name’s merits by whether or not it had a good nickname, and if not, could a good one be created? Especially since my dad loves to tell people that he loves the name Anastasia, that they should totally consider it for their baby, especially since it has the amazing nickname of … wait for it … “Nasty.” Oh how he howls with laughter at that! And so do we all, for dear old Dad, but all of us also with the firm conviction that we will never use the name Anastasia because we’re just not totally sure Dad’s joking.
(And even if a nickname is chosen and promoted and lives are threatened if any other nickname is used, there’s still the chance of a crazy nickname. My brother has called me Blu since high school. It would take far too long to explain why; suffice it to say that, while I appreciate the affection behind it, it’s not a name I want everyone to call me.)
For another thing, regarding nicknames, we talk about some pretty amazing but maybe somewhat heavy-for-everyday-use names here at Sancta Nomina. Solanus. Cornelius. Bartholomew. Quadragesimus. Amazing names for amazing people; names that call to mind feats of faith, lives offered up, miracles performed, love of God oozing from every story of their lives; names that reflect the weightiness with which we want our children to view their faith and the holy love of God.
But those sweet babies of ours will be hanging upside down from the monkey bars. They will be putting worms in their little brother’s hair. They will be drawing on walls and eating candy contraband while hiding behind chairs and screaming during Mass and sassing their mothers and falling asleep in our arms like sweet lambies who wouldn’t dream of doing anything mischievous. And how the heck do you even pronounce their given name anyway? (Say some of the relatives who have never heard of St. Apollonia.) It’s just kind of nice sometimes to be able to call such a child by a sweet normal-ish nickname rather than VerySeriousFirstName. And it’s nice to have options as to what that nickname might be.
Where do you fall on the nickname spectrum? Yea, nay, or somewhere in between?