what's in a name?

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The other day I was told that I should keep my maiden name, or at least hyphenate, because I need to keep my cultural identity. Taking on a Hispanic last name when I marry will make me lose my English heritage. The name is really important.

I have no intention of keeping my maiden name, mostly because I’m excited to share Paul’s name with him. The comment just made me think. What’s in a name? In modern-day United States, does someone’s name tell you something? If you just knew my name as it will be when I marry, would you be surprised to find a redhead light-skinned girl of British, German, and Irish descent? Am I losing that identity by letting go of my maiden name?

I’ve never really thought about my cultural heritage before. My ancestors on my dad’s side can be traced back to the Mayflower and eventually settled in Pennsylvania, and my maiden name is of British origins. My ancestors on my mom’s side were from England and Germany. My grandmother’s maiden name was Higgins, and she is where I got my red hair and skin from, so I know I have Irish blood in me. I don’t have family traditions that can be tied to a specific country, although I’m told that the minced meat pies we enjoy every Thanksgiving and Christmas fit into that category.

So it makes me wonder, what am I going to lose in 99 days (double digits, baby!) when I take on my husband’s last name as my own, and say goodbye to my maiden name forever? Am I losing my cultural heritage? Or am I further blending the line between a Hispanic last name and a Hispanic person? How much does it really matter in the end?