My name is Jamie. Not James, Not Jimmy. Not Janie, although I frequently receive mail address to Ms. Janie. That is a sure clue that this is not personal correspondence.

I began work with a grocery company while I was in high school and worked my way into management. The culture of the company emphasized customer service and stressed the important of knowing and calling your customers by name. I have learned over the years of serving people that is an important principle. 

Recently I visited the AT&T store near my home and was assisted by a very helpful young salesperson. From his name tag I saw that his name was Jose so I introduced myself as Jaime, the Hispanic version of my name. He replied, “Well, you can call me Joe.” So much for my attempt to be culturally relevant. 

Names are important. They identify us and often tell a lot about us. Many people carry on family names while the names of others are intended to give insight into personality or even politics. I think it is wonderful that my grandson’s first name is Jamie. It is a tribute to me and a name that goes back to my father and grandfather. My granddaughter’s first name is Felicia which means “happy,” and it describes her well. Each of them has Japanese middle names that mean “sun or sky” and “beautiful” respectively. They are equally appropriate for each of them.

Names seem to run in cycles. When we named our two oldest children we had no idea that the names we gave them would turn out to be the most popular names for babies born about the same year of their birth. Nowadays if you meet someone named Jason or Jennifer you can bet they were probably born around 1971 and 1975 respectively.

Nicknames are something else. Some make sense and some do not. Sports Hall of Fame individuals like golfer Sam Snead and baseball legend Hank Aaron received nicknames that represented their distinctive athletic characteristics. Snead was nicknamed “Slammin’ Sammy” because of what many called the “perfect swing” and Aaron has become known as “Hammering Hank” because of his many home runs. It is less clear why anyone would name a child “Dink” or “Pudd’n” or “Jabo.” Although attaching “little” to a second person in the family with the same name, we have opted not to do that with our grandson. Instead, we are “big and bigger Jamie.”

I know a couple of women whose families call them “Honey.” I am not sure how that came to be but is a sweet and endearing way to be remembered. Our children’s godmother (who has been a real grandmother to them) is known as Bubba. I know that is an often used masculine nickname especially in the south but received that nickname because that was the way our youngest son pronounced Melba when he was a toddler. 

Whatever the name, it sounds sweet to the ears. In a world that can be impersonal and with all the “user names” that technology requires it is comforting to know that our “real” name still carries value and significance. God knows each of us so intimately that “the hairs of our head are numbered” and I believe God knows each one and says to us as he did to the prophet Isaiah long ago “I have called you by name; you are mine.” 

Jamie Jenkins

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