Monday, 2 May 2011


After looking through all those journals I started to think about family history and the heritage we are left by our parents... and theirs, and theirs... and so on.

That heritage can be as personal as your name or as global as the state of the planet. Despite studying environmental biology I have no intention (or desire) to begin some kind of Dick Smith style controversial debate. So I'll step it back... to the state of me.

I'm fair skinned, with green eyes and brown hair. My eyebrows for some reason are a few shades darker than my hair, (my natural hair mind you) and I am absurdly tall.

Thank you mum and dad.

I am sure that there are things that you can find about yourself that you can identify as originating from one or another of your ancestors. My niece Lola can point the finger at her great grandfather for her "luscious ginger mane" for example. In my opinion this is one of the best parts of family history. Seeing somewhat literally where the bits of us come from.
We have no control over our genetics though (if we did I wouldn't have frizzy hair) but something that we can blame on our parents is our name.

Eleanor the first

My name is Eleanor.
Not coincidentally, my Oma's name is also Eleanor.
I was named after her and as a girl she would introduce me to friends as her namesake. It wasn't just my name, it was also hers, carrying with it the legacy that she had built of righteousness, caring and love.
While at times I thought that my name was old fashioned and unsuitable, I have come to appreciate the great gift that it is. (Not just because it's popular now)

While not all readers of this will be believers in the Book of Mormon, I think that this verse, taken from the book of Helaman 5:6 expresses the sentiment perfectly.

"...Behold I have given unto you the names of our first parents 
who came out of the land of Jerusalem; and this I have done that when 
you remember your names ye may remember them; and when ye remember 
them ye may remember their works; and when ye remember their 
works ye may know how that is it said, and also written 
that they were good..."

And why would Helaman want his sons to remember the good works of their ancestors? So that they would emulate their goodness. 
When our son was born Kyle and I hadn't put a great deal of thought into what we could call him. We knew more or less what we wouldn't call him as most of our conversations went something like this: 
"What about ______?"
"Oh no, I went to school with a _______ and he was a total _________" (... you can fill in the blanks.)
If remembering a righteous ancestor helps a child become righteous, surely naming someone after a _____ may risk them becoming a ________. Or something like that? I wasn't going to risk it.

Phoebe Donation
In the end we decided on Gabriel. In Hebrew it means 'Strong or mighty man of God' (or a variation of this) and it certainly describes some of the hopes I have for my baby. One of my dads mum's names is Donation, which asides from being a highly uncommon name, brings into my mind words like charity, kindness, and giving, which were all things that she embodied. 
The name came first though so maybe my next baby will be called Placid... or Petite!

Names are pretty important! Bastian saved Fantasia by giving the child-like Empress a name though I certainly wouldn't have gone with Moonchild, but thats beside the point. (Kudos to you if you knew the reference before I mentioned it)

Were you named after anyone? How did you come up with your children's names?


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  2. Thanks for the post! It has given me something interesting to read at 6am while I'm up with Kaira. Speaking of her, I think a lot of people expect us to tell some great story as to why we chose to name her Kaira. Really it was a name that Alex and I both happened to like. Luckily her middle name is from her great great grandma. So that redeems us a bit for those seeking deep meaning. However, I do want to say that after we'd chosen the name the meaning did seem to fit. Kaira means peaceful and I have one of the most contented and peaceful babies. Kaira is also of Scandinavian origin, which is significant for me as my name is Finnish. Some people seem to have trouble with the pronunciation, which kind of surprises me, but clearly it's a name trait passed on from her mother!

  3. I can't get over how much you look like your Oma!! Fantastic!
    Lucas was named after Ammaron Lucas, Steve's first friend in the UK, best friend, fellow missionary in London South and best man. He's now the bishop in our old ward (area pres ward) and is the best person we know.
    Both boys have middle names (two) chosen by grandparents. Lucas' were chosen by his grandfathers and Riley's were chosen by his grandmothers. All family names.

    Lovely post.

  4. picking the names for our kids was a long process, going through the same discussion points you mentioned. Our criteria were that there should be one family name, the other names were names we liked. The names had to go with the German surname, be pronounceable in both English and Norwegian, not be weird in either language. I was just relieved that our third child is a girl, because we'd run out of boys' names we agreed on :) In the end the children have names that reflect their mixed heritage of Melting-Pot Aussie and Viking. I tell them about the ancestor they were named after and what their names mean in order to give them roots and identity.