Monday, April 02, 2007

Axel and Bean

There have been a lot of questions to this point about our daughter’s name. Everything from the simple, “how do you pronounce it?” to “what does it mean?” and the simple just “why?” Reactions to her name from friends and family members have been varied, like “what?” or “hmm, well ok” or “I am sure it will grow on me” and a very few “I like it” sprinkled in there. This is part of the reason AB and I don’t share names before the birth… the expectation that no one will actually say anything negative once the baby is here. Wow! Imagine the comments if we had shared it before she arrived then!

Skadi is pronounced like “Katie” with an “S” in front. Skadi is the Norse goddess of snow and snow sports and the goddess for whom Scandinavia was named. We both trace our lineage back to Scandinavia (AB Norway and me Sweden) and we have decided to honor our combined heritages in our children’s names (Leif being the other). Well and it helps that we like a lot of Scandinavian names and that on both sides there are lots of names to choose from in naming a child after an ancestor. So that brings up another question, no, she isn’t named after anyone in our family.

So how did we come across the name? If you are like others in our family you have possibly searched her name on name sites to no avail. AB and I were married for a year and opted to spend our one year anniversary in Mammoth, California. While there we ate at Restaurant Skadi for our actual anniversary after a truly fantastic day of skiing (I met Warren Miller that day). The food was FANTASTIC, the view wonderful, we enjoyed watching the slopes lit up for night skiing and a procession of lights down the mountain. We became intrigued by the restaurant name and were told the meaning.

At one point during that following year an online friend of mine posted the question, “is there any event or place in your past you would name a child for?” I asked AB this and he said Skadi. Not only for the event – our one year anniversary, and definitely not to name her after a restaurant (my favorite meal was at Moose’s – I am not naming a child Moose). But because we liked the name and the meaning and the legend of Skadi. We have had the name in our repertoire for the last six years approximately.

After all this Skadi, as a name choice, has come and gone. AB had me convinced when we had Leif, but then he was a boy. This time around we had it narrowed down to three girls names, Skadi being one. My only hesitation is that I questioned whether or not it passed the Supreme Court test… can you see someone on the Supreme Court named Skadi. AB has countered this for months with, “well there are CEO’s named Bunny” (to which I replied one or multiple?)

I finally settled on Skadi as one of my top names after a few points – first, if she wanted a more professional name, she could go by her middle name, Jeanne, just like my grandmother did. Second, how could I deny the person I love the most in the world the name he truly loved. Third, if I didn’t use it now I would always regret not naming her Skadi when it held a lot of meaning for us.

Point number one brings us to her middle name selection… Jeanne. Jeanne is my middle name, my mom’s middle name and my grandmother’s middle name… it is given to the first daughter of the first daughter in my family. So her middle name was a given… or so I thought. Funny though that the person she was named after did not get it.

Even though my 84 year old grandmother was told a number of times her name, both first and middle, there were still issues. Last week the conversation went like this:

“I am still having trouble with her name,” grandma tells me.

“It’s Skadi, like Katie with an S in front,” I tell her.

“Oh,” she says, “what about her middle name?”

“Jeanne,” I say nearly laughing at the fact that it is her middle name and the name she goes by.

“How do you spell that?” she says.

“Seriously you need to know how to spell your name?” I had been wondering why she hadn’t commented on her middle name to this point.

“Oh, I thought it was Bean!” she exclaimed.

“Bean!!” I cried wondering how many people she had told that she had a new great granddaughter named “Something Bean”.

“I figured it was a family name on AB’s side,” she said.

I rolled my eyes.

You see if this was the first time you could probably chalk it up to old age. But truth be told it happened once before, just over 35 years ago.

My grandmother wrote to her family in California announcing the birth of her first grandchild, a girl! One thing I guess you should know is that my grandmother has notoriously bad handwriting. She was a nurse who should have been a doctor.

Everyone in California was happy to hear of the birth of Axel Jeanne! Axel… the nickname I carried for many years among my grandmother’s family. My great uncles all called me Axel for years, and I hated it.

Skadi Bean has stuck and I told my grandmother yesterday that once again she has the notoriety of granting the first nickname to one of her grandchildren.

I love her name. I hope that Skadi loves it too and will appreciate the fact that even though it is unique – and we all know how children don’t always revel in being unique – that her name represents a lot to us and AB’s and my relationship.

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