In preparation for the creation of our new family we decided we wanted a new family name. The hyphen thing just wasn’t working for us. What happens when Taylor Gerber-Higgins wants to marry Sam Kapoor-Goldenblat and then they have a child together? That’s a lot of letters for a child to learn. I mean one day all these hyphen names are going to catch up with us!
It was empowering to start a new lineage together, and create a name that builds a foundation for our new family. Is it a feminist lesbian thing? Not exactly. Am I attempting to severe ties with the patriarchal reign of my male lineage? Not exactly. Though I am the only female Boxer by blood in my immediate family. Am I just trying to be a jerk and challenge the traditional beliefs of my parents yet again? Not exactly. And honestly Boxer is a pretty cool last name, strong and fiesty.
Customs officers always made comments about it, putting up their fists and pretending to spar with me. I would always reply, “I’m a lover, not a fighter.”
Yes, we could have made a combo- Cliffox, or Boxford, those didn’t feel right either and Cheryl had no qualms about dropping her name altogether as well. So we went to the place where we always come together….nature.
The Larkspur’s, the River’s, the Unicorn’s……hmmmmmm. “Too fru fru granola,” was always her response. At the root of it all we decided to stick with a tree name. We attempted to call ourselves the Cedrus’s for a while. The latin name for Cedar. But it didn’t quite land and everyone has an opinion to offer!
“Sounds like a sinus problem. It’s too harsh!” my mother shared.
She and my father were less then thrilled, in fact they were offended with the thought that I would be shedding my name, something that my father, my grandfather and grandfather’s father had worked so hard to build up. “Your name is your calling card,” I was told.
It was a challenging conversation. I reminded my mother she lived with her maiden name for 30 years before she met my father and changed her name without batting an eye. It was tradition. It was just what you did. But somehow it made no sense to them, that we would want to create a new lineage, a uniting name for my partner and myself to herald in our new family together. Something that was completely our choice. And who knows maybe our child will want to do the exact same thing. To them I was disowning my family…which even if I had wanted to would be basically impossible!
I remember when Cheryl was getting to know my family and attempting to keep up with all the names in conversation…”It’s never just Jim, it’s always Jim Findlay, or Wendy Buckner. Everyone has a last name, I need a chart to keep up!”
Yes, in my waspy upbringing names were very important. Names were also important in my seven years apprenticeship with a Shamanic Elder. Every Fall Equinox there is a ceremony where you meditate with the fire for three days in preparation to receive your Medicine name, the sound of your soul. In the Native American tradition names can be fluid. You may be born with one name and upon reaching adolescence or other milestones in your soul’s journey receive another more appropriate name for that time. There are also naming rituals in the Yogic and Jewish traditions. Re-naming, re-claiming, re-birthing.
After many months search we became the Hawthorn’s. The Hawthorn tree is a heart medicine. In the Celtic tradition it has contains magic as a gateway to the fairy realm and is a symbol of fertility, cleansing and protecting. It’s flowers blossom white in May and turn to deep red berries in the Autumn. The hawthorn is an ancient tree used in the fertility rites of Beltane, the time of union. It felt strong, grounded and yet feminine. It felt like us.
We filled out forms, paid $136 and batta bomb batta bam, we are officially the Hawthorn’s. We’re still growing into it. It will take time but…
We’ve got the rest of our lives!
- It’s Not Easy Having a Hyphenated Last Name (blogher.com)
- Changing your name after Marriage? (smoochringsblog.co.uk)