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Daily Prompt: Name that… You!

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Daily Prompt: Name that… You!

Do you know the meaning of your name, and why your parents chose it? Do you think it suits you? What about your children’s names?

There have been many ‘Daily Prompts’ that spark an idea and an interest to write a post however invariably I’ve ended up distracted by business or pleasure.

Today caught me between tasks with a bursting desire to share how in 1969 I came to be called “Carissa Lynn” just as in 1971 my sister became “Chandra Jean.”

Chandra & Carissa

Chandra & Carissa enjoying a cousin’s wedding in 2012

As I understand the story, my mother’s first name “Edith” was a bit of a family tradition for a few generations. However… what young woman with a gorgeous singing voice and a desire to spread her wings beyond a small town wants to be saddled with a name like “Edith”? Come on, really?

So growing up, she went by her 2nd name “Patricia” which was affectionately shorted to “Patty” in her small town and in her adult years to the audaciously gender neutral “Pat.”

When it came time to naming both her daughters, she was determined to find us “interesting” first names and more “ordinary” second names, with the logic that we could choose what suited us best as we grew up.

For mine, “Carissa” was sometimes given to mean :

  • A caress, caring or beloved (Greek origin) – which always struck me as a bit ‘wussy’ though this is the most common meaning
  • And my personal favourite ‘Little mischief maker’ – which in some ways is rather more accurate in my case 😉

For my sister, “Chandra” is an Indian name :

  • Generally given to a boy in India with the more feminine version “Chandrani” used instead for girls
  • However in North America, was also used for girls and generally translated as ‘moon shinning.’

Naturally when we were growing up, neither my sister nor I knew another “Carissa” or “Chandra” so we successfully had original names! There was something distinctive in our names and in many ways they suit us both beautifully. I can’t even imagine being called “Lynn” or fathom my sister being called “Jean.” In truth, both our names only tended to be used when we were in trouble “Carissa Lynn you get back here right now, and I mean it!!”

Since then, there has been an upsurge in popularity and I was amazed to learn that “Carissa” (and its variants) was considered quite popular in 1992! Guess my folks were ahead of the curve in 1969!

The irony for my sister’s name is that I’ve now lived in India more than a decade. I get a puzzled pause when I say my sister Chandra. They look at my blue eyes, silver blond hair and invariably have a rather quizzical expression on their face. How…?

All this to say, my parents made excellent choices and I’m delighted to be “Carissa” and know my sister feels the same. So… thanks mom and dad!

Anyone else know a “Carissa” or a “Chandra”? Or have a name that was uncommon when you were growing up?

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  1. gkm2011 says:

    I knew a Carissa in high school. She too was ahead of the curve!

    • How cool is that! It really did seem to have a surge in popularity however certainly in the 70s & 80s in Winnipeg, Manitoba it was unique. I went to school with a Larissa tho – most amusing when we were in the same class one year and our papers kept getting handed back to the other as “L” and “C” got mixed up!

  2. gina4star says:

    Nope, I don’t know any other Carissas or Chandras. They are both really beautiful and original names. Haha, I love the puzzled pauses you get when you say your sister’s name, I would likely be as puzzled to be honest! It’s one of those funny turns of events that you moved to India, that you likely could never have predicted growing up.

    • Completely unpredictable! I think Chandra and I are quite lucky – we benefited from my mother’s extra care in selection given how much she detested her own first name. Reluctantly, she’ll sometimes sign as “E Patricia Hickling” stubbornly ignoring the full “Edith” 🙂

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