By Jen Hollidge
Not for Nothing NH
To my grandmother I was Squeaky, mostly because she had so many granddaughters she couldn’t keep our names straight.
By virtue of being last on the list, it was easier for her to remember me by my squeaky
voice, and summon me as such. She was Minky, mostly because my older sister couldn’t say Grammy, instead babbling the word that became her moniker. Since her passing, my Aunt, known to us as Auntie Silly, has been calling me Squeaky, picking up the slack in the fabric of that bond.
To my father I am Impy Wimp, a term of endearment for his baby-girl; third-born, a small baby and maybe just a little sensitive. Never an insult, just a show that he would weave the thread between us strong where it was vulnerable. To his children he is Dad, just Dad, simple and true and he has been Dad to more children than just his own.
My mom proudly wears a quilt of names herself. She is a Nauntie – a nickname in our family for a beloved aunt. She is also a Nana, the very definition of kindness, generosity and love. Nanas are a warm patchwork quilt of all the best things.
To most friends and family from childhood, I was Jenny. My parents, suffering my notorious disorganization, made me a song,
“Jenny, Jenny jump up. Jenny, Jenny joy. Jenny, Jenny pick up all your toys.”
I realize now it was probably more a desperate plea, from two very tired parents, than a fun little ditty, and I’m not above admitting that not much has changed today. Jenny is me to my core- the old and tattered childhood blankie- uncensored, messy and wholly myself.
Jenny is family and childhood friends. By extension, those who meet me through the people I love most get to know Jenny too, but I don’t introduce myself that way. Most people get Jen.
And if someone calls me Jennifer, well that’s just formal and weird, signifying the entirety of those relationships as well. At some point I must have introduced myself to them as Jennifer, extending only the most formal of threads.
Really what is a name? A combination of letters that make a sound that relates to you. From early on, that sound means you and says something about who you are. But it’s never just about you. From the very beginning, someone else chose it for you. Someone calls you that name, picking up the thread that runs between you, weaving it into something more.
I’m Jen Hollidge, a full-time program coordinator, full-time mother of two amazing daughters and full-time wife to my partner in crime for 18 years. We live in Concord, N.H. I have an English degree from the University of New Hampshire and I love to write.