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Thursday, December 16, 2010

What's My Name, the Holiday Edition!!

When I met the man and he put a ring on it nine years ago we started planning - the wedding venue, the reception hall, the menu and bar, the honeymoon, the flowers. It wasn't until a few weeks before the wedding that I learned that he had planned one additional item - that I would legally change my name to his. When I told him that I had no intention of doing so, there ensued a series of awkward pauses. It had never occurred to him that the wife would not change her last name. And while I may have given in on the guest count and a few other items, on this matter, I would not bend. No hyphenation, no use of my "maiden" name as my middle name (and, BTW, "maiden" name irritates me to no end. I'm not skipping around in a field in petticoats for gosh sakes!!!). This was and is my name, and, just as he need not change his name in order to signal to the world our union, commitment, and love for one another, I, too, found it unnecessary. He listened to me and he heard me - that's why he is the man I love.

But now, we're here, and into our eighth Christmas season, and as the Christmas cards arrive, I notice that my name is, apparently, up for debate. Cousins, aunts, and uncles are, it seems, still in favor of the Mr. and Mrs. For them, I sort of understand as we only send out holiday cards once a year - albeit with printed address labels that clearly show our two-namedness (I just made up that word - it's pretty cool!!!). However, close friends whom we see throughout the year, who know what my name is, have become frequent violators. I'd thought of, one year, addressing their cards to "Bobby Watson", of Absurdist Eugene Ionesco fame. That idea was shot down by the husband, ah well:(

So why does this happen?? I've often blamed poor holiday card mailing list maintenance. Seriously. Throughout the year we update our lists as people move, divorce, die - things happen! I keep our lists in a Word doc so that updates are easy to make, and labels easily run. I know, I know, Miss Manners would say it's impolite to have printed labels for addresses, but, hey, which is worse - a printed label that's easily read or calling someone the wrong name.

Now, while I think there are some staunch anti-namechangers out there (and this can be men as well as some of you ladies out there) who simply refuse to address us correctly, I also think that people actually don't know my last name. A card comes in the mail and the envelope, with that all-important return address information,  is immediately trashed. Also, people assume that, of course, she's changed her last name. I don't lump these people in with the anti-namechangers as, when they notice the error, they actually will make an effort to include my actual legal name.

I had a similar issue when sending out a thank you note to a couple that I do not know very well. I asked friends who were close to the couple about their name situation and was informed that while the wife had opted out of the name-change, these friends were unsure of her actual last name. So I simply addressed the card using the couple's first names only. Yep, they knew that I didn't know a last name, however, they were cool with the fact that I didn't offend them.

So far this year we've had a few cards with Mr. and Mrs. and I'm sure that number will increase as we get into the last-minute crush of holiday card mailing. In fact, a friend of mine, a fellow traveler in Camp Opt Out, has been tracking the Mr. and Mrs. count for the holiday cards she and her hubby have received. We're going to keep collecting the envelopes and develop some sort of game involving adult beverages...and maybe darts!

I'm just saying:)

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