US: Name It and Claim It

The original William and Laura Colle

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It is easy to joke about what you might name your children before you actually bring them into existence. Once you are faced with the reality of adding another soul to the planet, the name game takes a serious turn. There are three ways to approach the task. One is to comb through baby naming books and cross reference names that sound good with names that have a deeper meaning, finally resting on the perfect moniker for your child based on star alignment and whatever the publisher could come up with for the 2012 edition. The other is to throw caution to the wind and go with a name that just feels right. The third option is to continue a family name and hope that the progeny doesn’t end up doing anything wacky and ruining 100 years of good deeds and impeccable character.

Hope and I started with the third option and eventually shifted to a hybrid of the second and third with Jordan (I guess that means there are four options). Since our children were born in the dark ages before weekly sonograms, we had no idea the gender of any of our children before they took their first breath. Not knowing added drama to the birth day but it also made for pretty generic interior designs for the nursery. Primary colors were dominant. My full name is William Jacob Colle III. My father is William Jacob Colle II. His father is not William Jacob Colle because the naming skipped a generation. My dad’s grandfather held that crown. Hope and I agreed early on that, if we had a boy, we would follow tradition and name him William Jacob Colle IV. I admit, when it gets past the third, the numbering gets into some strange territory. One of my cousins is a third and they call him Trace so my uncle asked if we were going to call our son Quattro. Although we never seriously considered that it did make us decide what we would call him, trying not to leave it to chance. My dad goes by Bill and I go by Jay so, to avoid any junior references, we decided to call our son William.

If we happened to have a girl for our first child, we were seriously considering calling her Kansas. This fell directly in the middle of option two because there was no reason whatsoever to do this other than it sounded cool. (We even had a middle name picked out based entirely on flow and cadence. Kansas Rochelle Colle. I still like it.) What doesn’t make sense is, by the time we were coming up with names for our second child, Kansas didn’t even make the cut. We decided to go with family names again and landed on Laura Jean if it happened to be a girl. The original Laura was married to William Jacob Colle the first and I have strong memories of visiting her house as a kid, not fully appreciating the opportunity to know my great grandmother (she lived to be 96), but now relishing the things I do remember about her. Jean is homage to Hope’s father, Gene Davis, which gave us a two-fer in the naming game. I think Hope was starting to sense a “Colle Naming Tsunami” and rushed in to get the Davis family in the mix. I also liked that I could call her LJ as a nickname, which, in reality, never really stuck outside of convenience in texting.

When it was time to name our third child, we were tired. Fortunately, we had a unique resource to pull from that helped spur us to a great solution. When we were expecting our first child, I ran a tongue-in-cheek contest in our Christmas card asking for people to help us name our baby. I included a loose paper ballot in our card with a form explaining the rules and a blank to submit a name. It was a joke so I was surprised when over 50 people mailed the form back to me with suggestions. Granted, 75% of them were ridiculous (and funny) but scattered throughout were some legitimate recommendations. One of them ended up being the name of our third child and it had the added bonus of being gender neutral. Whether a boy or a girl, our newest family member would be named Jordan Davis Colle. This is a complete hybrid of options two and three because the name Jordan is void of any historical precedence in our family and Davis is Hope’s maiden name. It may be difficult for any of you who know Jordan today to picture him as a girl, but there was a 50/50 chance it could have been. (Commence skinny jean jokes… now!)

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