Wednesday, December 9, 2009

My Internal Struggle Over Our Holiday Card

I ordered our family holiday cards last week. I chose a photo of the boys of the boys wrestling. It's one I've actually featured here on the blog. It really captures the spirit of our day-to-day life around here, so I though it was appropriate.

I always choose a winter-themed card and use a generic non-holiday specific sentiment. For example, in years past we've used the simple phrase, "Be merry!" This year I chose "Peace. Love. Joy. Happy Holidays!" I do this because we send the card to many people who do not celebrate Christmas and like it to feel inclusive. Whatever, it's cute.

The signature on the holiday card is usually just our given names, "Nelson, Jenni, Oscar, & Miles." I think that works fine. But, for some reason when I was asked to select the signature, it suggested that we sign our family name in addition to our given names. And the card looked really cute like that, with the family name followed by individual names.

Here in lies the problem. I don't share the same last name as Nelson and the boys. I'm totally fine with that and have no plans to change it but looking at the cuteness of the card gave me pause.

I've written about the whole name-change issue before (that's right, I scoured my archives for you people.) I don't think having the same last name is what makes you a family; it's the love that matters.

And, I have a really cool last name. No kidding. And Nelson's last name, while perfectly respectable, it a bit vanilla in comparison. It would be like going from the last name Peschi (as in Joe, chosen because the syllables and ethnic origin are very similar to my last name) to the last name Gleason (chosen for the same reasons.) Jenni Peschi or Jenni Gleason? Which is cooler? No contest.

Also, a lot of people actually call me by my last name so it's more than just my last name. It's my name, name. Like, when I sign birthday cards to certain people, I sign "Peschi" instead of "Jenni."

Okay, so back to the holiday card. It really did look cute w/the family name. I debated using "The Gleason and Peschi Family" but that was a bit long. I debated just going with our given names per usual but it looked a little empty after seeing the version with the family name, like it was missing something.

Then I started thinking. Maybe I would just have it say "The Gleasons." I let people get away with calling me Mrs. Gleason all the time (even though, seriously, I'm really not a Mrs. Anybody; it just doesn't suit me.) It's just easier than explaining to dumbfounded stares and silence that yes, we are married but no, we don't have the same last name because I kept my last name. And, yes, my children have my husband's last name but I do not. And, no, that generally does not cause confusion as to weather or not the kids are mine. And, and, and, you know? So I let it slide to avoid these conversations and the follow up questions because oh my god are people nosy about this shit.

I mean, it's not like I kept my name for political reason. Not really, anyways. Yes, I think the original idea of changing a woman's name to transfer ownership is archaic, but I also don't think that's why women change their names anymore. I like my name though, it's important to me.

And here's the other thing: When I get Christmas cards addressed to Dr. and Mrs. Gleason, I feel ANNOYED (but I do not feel annoyed if they are addressed to the Gleason Family because I'm complicated like that.) I mean, we've been married for nearly five years, who that is sending us holiday cards does not know I kept my name? Who? Are people trying to diminish my choice, or act like my decision to keep my name doesn't really matter, like I'm REALLY Mrs. Gleason no matter what I say? It gets under my skin. Like I said, it is important to ME and I want it acknowledged.

But maybe it's not that important to me because our holiday card totally says "The Gleasons." That's right; I did it. Did I diminish my own choice not to take my husband's name when we married? Yes, I'll allow for that. It looked cute and I liked it and even though my last name is not Gleason and never will be Gleason. Yes, I realize that now when I receive cards addressed to Dr. and Mrs. Gleason I have to let it go, but it's probably time to let that go anyways.

I did change the card about 15 times before I clicked "Approve." And even after they sent confirmation to my email, I felt a little funny about it, like I was a poser or something. Like I'm all "I LOVE my name, my name is important," but I sold out for a cute Christmas card. Because that's kind of true. Whatever though, because I'm okay with it. Mostly.


Xbox4NappyRash said...

ET also uses her own surname. She is referred to as Mrs Me a lot still, even on mail.

But seriously cool name!

Michele R said... Some computer program suggested you use the family surname?? Seems odd.
The good news is you got a card done. Yeah!
Here is strange: I know someone who got married and a few years later had a baby. Then the hubs and wife selected a brand new, fabricated last name for themselves. So now they have a last name for hubs, wife and new baby. Created by themselves.
Anyway, few times at our dinner table one of the boys makes mention of females changing their name and I always tell them that wives don't have to and in fact I wouldn't have if I didn't really really like Hubs last name.

Anonymous said...

You shouldn't feel funny for choosing "The Gleasons" for your holiday card, because even though it's legally not your name, you're still part of the Gleason family, right? And they're part of the Peschi family, even though it's not legally their name. Perhaps you could really confuse your holiday card recipients by using "The Peschis" on next year's card.

I'd do it. But that's the way I roll.

Jan from the Sushi Bar

Suga T said...

Peschi, I am totally going to start calling you Gleason now. -IE

Sprite's Keeper said...

Here in lies the rub.
(First, know that I heart you!)
You ARE a Gleason, even if your last name isn't, since you are part of the family and are forever bound to Nelson and the boys.
You are also a Peschi since that is who you've always been, bound to your parents and lineage.
So where's the rub? Um, there is none. I just like saying it.
Happy Holidays Peschi-Gleason-Oscarelli family! How's that? :-)

Mommy, I'm Home said...

I kept my name for professional reasons but could really care less if people call me by that last name or my husband's last name. Honestly, life is too complicated by more serious issues than to muck it up even more by struggling over which last name to use.

Big Mama Cass said...

HAHA, wow you totally over thought that. You sound just like me with like EVERYTHING i do. *shrug* Like I said on your other blog about you keeping your name... different strokes :)

Anonymous said...

Personally, I think its awesome that you are so attached to your last name that you kept it after getting married. As for the whole holiday card issue, I agree with the thought that even though you are still J. Peschi, as a whole, you guys are the Gleason family, so sending out something as a family, Gleason was the way to go. When doing your own thing, you rawk that Peschi :D

gretchen said...

I have kept my maiden name because that's the name I work under, but now that my son is in school, a lot of people know me by my husband's name. It's just easier. Most people know me by both names and I answer to both. And really? The name's not important. No one's taking your identity away by calling you by a different name. You can be Jenni Peschi and Mrs. Gleason both, and it's fine. Though I know it's hard to let go of the idea.

Mrsbear said...

Lol. I kept my name too. I don't bother explaining the why anymore because people can be kind of jerky about it. Also, I'm not exactly sure why myself anymore. And really, does it matter? Not to me, or to my husband, or the kids. I do sometimes sign the family name to cards and such, just because listing all six of our first names seems a little exhausting as opposed to just scribbling "The Bear" family. Laziness is as good a reason as any.

Keely said...

My name is important to me now. To be honest, hubby's last name is pretty cool, but if I took it I'd be all alliterative, and, well, I've had this name for 35 years, why change it now??

Course, crossing the border can be a bit of a pain.

Aliceson said...

The stress involved in making the perfect card! And I thought the photo choosing was the hardest part.

I too used our last name on our card followed by our first names below, although we all have the same last name so it was simpler. When I married (at age 20) I was happy to change my name, seriously I upgraded big time, but I can see why some women wouldn't want to. My SIL kept her maiden name, had 2 kids, then divorced and is now remarried with her new husband's last name. Talk about a confusing Holiday card!

Amanda said...

Holy crap! I just went to comment on my own hatred of my changed name and decided to follow your link to your old post first and BAM it's me complaining about my stupid changed name. Insane. Anyway, I am technically "Mrs. So-and-so" now but I get irritated when people address me that way. The worst is when stuff comes addressed to Mr and Mrs HisFirst HisLast. I want to vomit. Also, I refuse to open that mail.

Amanda said...

and also, my compromise with my husband on the name thing was to not change my name professionally. It works for me since that's one of the only places I typically use my full name and since I've been published and whatnot I didn't want to screw around with that.