Most Beautiful Thing: Cate is Four

This is my Cate.  She turned four on Saturday.  We celebrated by going to the waterpark and playground.  Of course I didn’t get a chance to take photos:)

I just want to say something about this beautiful little girl. We waited quite a while for this lovely child, trying to discern the best time to add to our family while juggling grad school and job hunting.  When we were searching for baby names I googled “long awaited one” because I thought that would be appropriate.  Unfortunately the name that comes closest to that meaning is “Bane.”  Suffice to say we didn’t go with that one.

Cate’s full name is Catherine Elanor.  Catherine is for the fourth-century Saint Catherine of Alexandria, who was extremely beautiful and intelligent princess of Alexandria.  Apparently the philosophers who questioned her about her faith were so convinced by her arguments that they all converted to Christianity and were subsequently executed.  Catherine herself was eventually beheaded for her faith.

Elanor is for a couple of people.  The first is Eleanor of Aquitaine, wife of Henry II and mother of Richard the Lionheart.  I have read her story from a couple of different perspectives (including the amazing movie The Lion in Winter) and I have always been impressed with Eleanor’s strength of character.  Secondly, Eleanor is the name of the heroine of Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility who undergoes great personal stress in silence because she valued duty and honour. She also gets her man in the end.

Elanor also is a reference to the Lord of the Rings. At the end of Return of the King Sam comes home and marries his sweetheart, Rosie.  Their first child is a daughter.  Sam is stuck on a name and so he consults Frodo.  Hobbits generally name their children after flowers, and so Frodo suggests naming their daughter “Elanor” after the star-flower that grows in the elf-land of Lothlorien. That’s how we came up with the spelling.

So my sweet Cate is named after a saint-princess, a queen, a gentlewoman, and a hobbit-child who was a symbol of healing after the Great War of the Ring.  How’s that for a loaded heritage?  I don’t see this as a burden for her, but a set of examples that she can look up to, admire, and emulate.

I wanted strong and beautiful names for my daughter because I want her to be strong and beautiful.  I want her to be able to stand up for herself, to know her own mind, and to choose the good and the beautiful over the tawdry and the mundane.  It is nice that she is beautiful on the outside, but what really makes her special is the joy that is inside her, that spark of life and loveliness that draws your eyes to her again and again.

Want to know something else?  “Catherine” means “pure.”  “Elanor” is derived from “Helen” and means “light.”  My Catherine Elanor is “pure light.”  That about sums it up, right there.

Happy Birthday Cate.


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