May 28, 2007
Rarely a Margaret
I am not really a Margaret, except in the bureaucratic sense. I've got all the documentation to prove I'm a Margaret–birth certificate, driver's license, diploma, marriage license, resume–but I'm not really one of them.
Margaret is a family name. Five generations of women have had this moniker and my mother (guess what her name was?) chose me to carry on the tradition. She had two earlier opportunities to burden daughters with this name, and yet she waited until she had her surprise 4th child to use it. To me this says, "Hey, I'm running out of good names here, why not?" As a result I felt no compunction to carry on the tradition. My daughter is called Nora--a beautiful name and one selected just for her.
It's confusing when there is more than one person in a family with the same name, so by default I became Maggie. This name appeals to me. It's snappy and lively while Margaret seems more serious and even a little somber. I did discover that about four generations back there was another snappy one--Maggie Belle. Love that name. I imagine a little girl riding bareback across the plains of Kansas in a most unlady-like fashion. Now that's a Maggie to be proud of.
I must admit that despite my disdain for my formal name there are times when I refer to myself that way. "Oh, Margaret!" is my standard comment to myself when I make a mistake or forget something very obvious--like driving by the freeway exit I wanted to take or going into a room and not remembering why I'm there. As I get older I'm sure my language will be peppered with "Oh, Margarets."
I don't know a lot of other Margarets. There have been famous ones–including a Scottish saint–but the numbers are certainly decreasing. I just looked up popular girl names from my decade (the 1950's) and Margaret was #16 out of 25--it hasn't made the cut any decade since then. Fortunately there are apparently thousands of canines who will perpetuate the Maggie name. One site I looked at lists it as the 6th most popular dog name. It makes me proud to think of adoring golden retrievers responding obediently to the command, "Maggie! Come here girl! Maggie!"