Thursday, September 8, 2011

Good evening, Evangeline Rose...

I’m suffering from a bout of baby fever. I’m sure it will pass quickly, but for now all I can do is obsessively fantasize about a little sweet bebe in my arms. Please bear with me as I name my hypothetical future children, which I am known to do from time to time.

Today I want to talk about Evangeline. This is Jonathan’s favorite girl name on the planet (good taste, right?). I love the name Evangeline for all of the things my own name is not: she’s feminine, beautiful, literary, southern, musical, and more than anything, she's just darn fancy. Unlike my name which is all tom-boy, no fuss, down-to-earth, beer drinking, plain ole Laine (which fits me to a T). Henry Wadsworth Longfellow wrote a tragic epic love poem (and I love me some poetry) “Evangeline”, about lover’s separated when the Acadians in Canada moved down to South Louisiana. Many names in the area reference this character, which warms my heart since this is where I was born and raised. I grew up visiting Evangeline Parish, and going to concerts at Evangeline Downs.

My fellow home-town boy, Marc Broussard, wrote the most beautiful song called ‘Evangeline Rose” about his own daughter. I cry every time I hear it, thinking of Jonathan dancing with our future daughter on her wedding day.

The name is even referenced in the Disney movie The Princess and the Frog, which is also set in Cajun country. Ray, a firefly, is in love with Evangeline, who he believes to be another firefly, but is actually a star. Evangeline is also the name of a dormitory on the LSU campus, where my husband and I met.

And then there is Evangeline Lily, the epitome of natural beauty.

I’ll admit it, I’m a LOST fan (or was until the finale ruined it). One of my favorite memories of Jonathan and I's early dating days was watching Season 1 of LOST on the pull out bed in his living room. Evangeline Lily totally boosted my confidence in my own dark curly hair, green eyes, and freckles.
Evangeline has so much going for her, but there are some drawbacks. The most important is that I have this sinking feeling we aren’t the only one’s digging Evangeline and she’s about to explode up the popularity charts. One thing I love about my name is how it is familiar but rare. Even though my married name is extremely popular, I’m still probably one of a kind. With a common last name, we definitely have to be careful that our kids don’t share the exact name, first and last, with anyone in their circle. Jonathan seriously runs into this problem a lot. Right now, Evangeline sits at #239 on the US popularity charts, which is still comfortably obscure. However, it’s on the upward trend, jumping 96 places in just one year. The chart below shows the steep rise in popularity.
Another hesitation is pronunciation. I’ve heard the last syllable pronounced three different ways which are all completely legitimate. In south Louisiana we pronounce the ending as ‘lynn’; whereas I’ve also heard ‘lean’ (as in Evangeline Lily and Ray’s love interest in the Princess and the Frog) and ‘line’. Whereas in South Louisiana, the - lynn ending is intuitive, chances are that it won’t be where our children grow up. Name mispronunciation is something that has plagued me my whole life, and I don’t want to pass that along to a child.

And then there are the nicknames. While Jonathan and I agree on the full name Evangeline, nicknames are a different story. It seems natural that a lengthy name like Evangeline would be shortened to Eve, Evie, or Eva. I think those are gorgeous names, but I don’t prefer them to Evangeline in full. In fact, if I were to shorten Evangeline at all, I’d probably call her Annie, Vanna, or maybe Jelly. Jonathan would rather call her Evan. As a girl with a name more commonly used for boys, I tend to balk at this trend. Unfortunately, I think nicknames develop more organically, and as parents we don’t really have a choice in the matter. Surely, she would have a nickname, but I can’t fool myself into thinking I’d have any control over that. After all, I grew up with a kid we called exclusively called Miguel, despite his mother’s insistence that his name was Shawn. I know how these things work.

To summarize, Evangeline is a beautiful, ultra- feminine name with great literal and sentimental meaning to us. We are a little wary of her potential popularity boost and the fact that she may not wear well internationally.

Sorry this was so long winded. Told ya, I’ve got the baby fever something serious right now. I think it might be contagious. I’m getting the feeling that Jonathan is coming down with it too. We’ve never had baby fever at the same time before. This could get dangerous.

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