Several months ago I wrote an entry about the music that Annika adored in her first few years of life
(including a link to the rare sight of Jörg dancing). I decided that I wanted to reference examples to some of the less well-known music, and thought 5-10 seconds of each song would suffice to get the idea across without worrying about entering the murky area of (free) internet music downloading. However, I really wanted to put up an entire verse from Sara Hickman's rendition of "You are My Sunshine," and that ran to 30 seconds or so, which left me feeling a bit uncomfortable.
So what do you do in the internet age? Why, you google the artist to see if you can come up with some contact info. It turns out that Sara Hickman
has a blog
, as well as a published email address. So I dropped her a note, asking if what I wanted to do with her song was OK. Much to my surprise, she replied almost immediately, and was gracious in the extreme. Well, I wasn't surprised about the gracious part, but about the immediate, in-person reply.
Even more to my surprise, she replied to my "thank-you" email, asking about the name "Annika," as she has a similarly named friend (Anika). We exchanged a few emails, and she even agreed to judge a photo-caption contest I ran a few months back. Her question about the names, though, inspired a rather long reply:
I think Annika as a name is gaining somewhat in popularity, as I have now heard of several little Annika's under the age of 5 or so. Your friend, Anika (26! Oh, I love knowing women that age--old enough to have real conversations with, but young enough to be experiencing so much for the first time, and exploring life in a way that you just don't once you're married with kids. At least, that's me...), has the spelling traditional to Spanish or Hindu. We have the spelling from Sweden. It's basically the Scandinavian version of Ann. My husband is German, so we were looking for a name that worked both in English and in German. Of course, there's lots of overlap in the names of the two countries, but usually the name is pronounced quite differently in the 2 languages ("Katherine" vs. "Katarina", for example). I, personally, didn't see that as a big problem, but my husband, always one for living an orderly life, wanted the name to sound good and be pronounced the same way in both languages. This made the naming task nigh impossible. Finally, 8 months pregnant, we were sitting together on the couch watching Law and Order, and one of the minor characters was from Germany and named Annika. So I said, "OK, so what about that?" And he said, "OK." And that was it.
As to the meaning, I think it's "graceful." The meaning that I do remember, and liked very much, is that Annika is very close to a Hausa name (Nigerian language--"Annikiye") meaning "sweet faced."
My name was invented in order to name me after my father, despite not being a boy. My dad's middle name is Morris, so my mom just took the first syllable and then girly-fied it. It turns out that it is pronounced similarly to a name common in the Slavic world meaning, "Of the sea." Of course I have never even lived within 600 miles of any sea. Unless you count Chicago's Lake Michigan, but that's still 150 miles away.
I mostly call my daughter "Anni" (with the "A" pronounced "Ah"), while my husband usually goes for the full "Annika". This led her at one point to start calling him "Daddy-ka," which I thought was a very cool peek into the world of how kids figure out how to work with words (that they are made up of parts that you can rearrange and reuse--an insight that most adults don't even consciously make). It was also great because the -ka can be used as a suffix to show affection in Hungarian, so Daddy-ka actually made perfect sense from that language's point of view.
Our second daughter is named Franciska, again a name that works both in German and English, although it is a bit old-fashioned sounding in English. However, I agreed to the name because I realized I could call her "Frankie," which I've always loved. Especially since my two girls are now "Frankie and Anni," a little musical joke ("Frankie and Johnny") that I stopped telling because, apparently, noone else thought it was amusing.
She wrote back, although obviously I won't quote here, with a lovely story about naming her own two girls, which involved a big car and the voice of God. To which I replied, in part:
I had to laugh at myself a bit when reading your reply--you heard the voice of God giving you names, while I heard the voice of Jerry Orbach (may he rest in peace). That just about sums it up for me.
I did not hear back from her again. I think maybe that you are not supposed to make light of the hand of God in the sacred naming ceremony. But, man, she sure is great. My girls are still in love with her kids' CDs.