Before you read the rest of this post, watch the video linked below. It’ll take you almost exactly one minute:
Are you done? Good. I hope you enjoyed it. We definitely enjoyed making it and showing it to you. Now, on to why I’m writing.
One of the things I know lots of people will ask us is: “Why are you doing this?”
Because we’re a new family—that’s why. At eight-plus years of marriage, we may not seem that new, but we know our family history on both sides, and… we’re pretty new. Rather than choosing one or the other of our existing family lines to identity with forever, we’ve decided to choose a new identity all our own.
We aren’t doing this to make anyone sad, or to symbolize any kind of rejection of our families or our families’ values. We’re embracing a new identity, not abandoning our existing ones. Some people probably will feel sad or hurt, and that makes us feel sad as well. But I will always be a proud member of the Stauffer family, just as Sally will always be a proud member of the Wallin family. We have a new name now, and we as one have a new identity, but each of us is the same person we were before.
I’m sure many people will also want to know what our new name means, or why we chose it.
I’ve always identified very strongly with the Scottish part of my heritage. My mother actually gave me a new Scottish name when I turned eighteen, and I got married to Sally wearing a kilt of our actual clan’s actual tartan.
Sally, for her part, has always thought of herself as primarily Polish. Her mother and all her mother’s family are Polish—second-generation immigrants who escaped from the Nazi regime.
Both of us together have also come to strongly identify with being artists and people of craft. So, after a lot of research and deliberation, we decided on combining the following elements:
“Ealain”, a Scottish Gaelic word meaning “art, learning/profession, poetry”.
“-ska”, a common Polish suffix meaning “of the….”
We decided to drop the first a to make the English phonetical spelling match the actual Gaelic pronunciation of the word. That gives us “Elainska” (pronounced “eh-LINE-skuh”).
As in, “Sally & Ryan Elainska”.