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.