Wednesday, January 30, 2008

the name game

As I posted here throughout my pregnancy with Elanor, we had a really hard time thinking of a name for a girl. We had our boy name picked very, very early (I think around 20 weeks). It was really easy for us; we both just knew when we heard it.

The girl name, though, was tough. We couldn't agree on our favorites -- he liked one thing, I liked another. We thought we came up with The Name at Thanksgiving, but the more I thought about it, the less I was convinced. 

We talked about it while I was in labor and had our girl names narrowed down to about three choices, including Elanor. Although Elanor was my favorite, and a name that I'd had in mind for a girl for a long time, I knew it wasn't Brett's favorite -- he was holding out for the one we'd talked about around Thanksgiving. 

So when Elanor was born, I called over to Brett, "What are we going to name her?" And he said, "I don't know!"

A few minutes later, when I was still on the table being stitched up, I said, "How is Elanor doing?" And then I said, "Wait, I just called her Elanor. Is that fine; are you ok with that being her name?" And he said he was fine with that. (Like I said before, I think he would have said yes to anything at that point.) 

Here's where the meaning behind her name comes in. And here's where, once again, I prove that I am a huge, huge dork. So please don't make fun of me! :p 

As I've mentioned before, I love Lord of the Rings. I have read the books a gagillion times, and I even took The Fellowship of the Ring to the hospital to read when I was in labor, since it's a comforting, familiar book for me. (Like I said before, I didn't get very far, but at least it was a distraction for an hour or so.)

A few years ago, while I was reading the books, I started looking for names that we could use as names for our kids someday. It wasn't like I actually thought we'd use them, more that it was just an idle activity for me. 

At first, I thought Lorien might be nice for a girl. But it's so obviously from Lord of the Rings, I decided it was too blatant. And then I hit upon Elanor. 

Here's the passage where the word Elanor is introduced. The company have just come through the Mines of Moria and have suffered a crushing loss. They are feeling lonely, exhausted, and confused, and they are grieving the loss of a great friend. 

However, they have just entered into the beautiful and ancient Elven land of Lothlorien, a place of healing, peace, and grace. They have been blindfolded in the tradition of the Elves (non-Elven visitors must wear blindfolds) but their guide, Haldir, has bid them to take off their blindfolds and see the beauty and peace that surround them. (My emphasis in bold.)

"When his eyes were in turn uncovered, Frodo looked up and caught his breath. They were standing in an open space. To the left stood a great mound, covered with a sward of grass as green as Spring-time in the Elder Days. Upon it, as a double crown, grew two circles of trees: the outer had bark of snowy white, and were leafless but beautiful in their shapely nakedness; the inner were mallorn-trees of great height, still arrayed in pale gold. High amid the branches of a towering tree that stood in the centre of all there gleamed a white flet. At the feet of the trees, and all about the green hillsides the grass was studded with small golden flowers shaped like stars. Among them, nodding on slender stalks, were other flowers, white and palest green: they glimmered as a mist amid the rich hue of the grass. Over all the sky was blue, and the sun of afternoon glowed upon the hill and cast long green shadows beneath the trees. 

'Behold! You are come to Cerin Amroth,' said Haldir. 'For this is the heart of the ancient realm as it was long ago, and here is the mound of Amroth, where in happier days his high house was built. Here ever bloom the winter flowers in the unfading grass: the yellow elanor, and the pale niphredil.' " 

Later in the book, one of the main characters, Sam Gamgee, names his first daughter Elanor as well. Sam was always enamored with the elves; it's no wonder he chose it as his daughter's name. 

So that is where we got her name, non-traditional spelling and all. I know, I know, I always said I didn't want to give my kid a name with a non-traditional spelling and doom her to a life of correcting people...but, well, I did it anyway. Sorry, kiddo! 

I hope, too, that by giving her this name I haven't somehow jinxed any love for Lord of the Rings that she might one day have. I hope that she loves the books someday as much as her Mema and I do. 

Anyway, the name just seems to fit her perfectly. She is our golden, star-shaped winter flower, and I can't imagine her being called anything else. 

***Edited to add:
My mom pointed out that I hadn't explained her middle name, Naudain. It was our middle name choice for a boy or a girl, and it is Brett's mom's maiden name. The Naudain name can be traced back to Elias Naudain, the Huguenot, who was the first Naudain to come to America in the 1600's. Brett's late Grandpa Big Al could trace his lineage all the way back to Elias. Pretty amazing, if you ask me. Many of Elias Naudain's descendants have been active all over the country, in both politics and business. 

Neither of Brett's uncles on that side of the family had kids, which means that the Naudain name in that branch of the family is no more. So using Naudain as Elanor's middle name is our way of continuing the name in some way and of honoring Brett's Grandpa Big Al, who I unfortunately never had the pleasure of knowing, as well as a way of honoring his Grandma Dori, who at 90 years old is still going strong, and whom we both love very much. 


Isabel said...

That is an amazing story. And it's perfect. I'm sure Elanor won't mind being named after something so beautiful.

Kris said...

I think this is a beautiful story, Kathleen. Someday she will appreciate it as her name story.