Happy Thanksgiving is her name

Happy Thanksgiving Reynolds, a 43-year-old family physician from Minneapolis, said her unusual name has been an 'unintentional gift.' Others with holiday-themed names, like Mary Christmas Pierson, agree.

Chris Polydoroff/St. Paul Pioneer Press/AP
Happy Thanksgiving Reynolds, (f.), with her parents Thora, (l.) and Kelly Reynolds in her Minneapolis home on Nov. 24. Happy describes her parents, who are divorced, as 'West Bank hippies.' They didn't have a name picked out for their new baby because they believed in letting the universe help choose the name on the day of her birth.

This week you can wish happy Thanksgiving and happy birthday to Happy Thanksgiving.

If that sentence didn't make much sense, it's probably because you don't know Happy Thanksgiving Reynolds, a family physician from Minneapolis, who was born 43 years ago in late November.

"I was the child of hippies," Reynolds said. And not just the occasional bell-bottom, bead-wearing hippies, according to Reynolds. They were a hard-core, tofu-making, co-op founding couple who didn't have a name picked out for their new baby because they believed in letting the universe help choose the name on the day of her birth.

"It was total universe magic time for them," Reynolds told the St. Paul Pioneer Press.

So when the day happened to be Thanksgiving, the universe seemed to be deciding that Reynolds' first and middle names should be Happy Thanksgiving. The first snowfall of the season also occurred that day, Reynolds said.

"I narrowly missed the name Snow," she said.

Reynolds said her name has been an "unintentional gift."

She isn't shy about using her full name in her professional life. After medical school, "I said, 'You know what, I'm Dr. Happy Thanksgiving Reynolds.' That's just who I am."

She's gotten job interviews because people want to meet someone named Happy Thanksgiving. "I'm someone you're not going to forget based on the name," she said.

Christmas Eve Oberlander feels something similar about her name.

"It's been wonderful," said the interior designer from Lake Minnetonka. "I've always loved my name."

Oberlander was born 14 minutes before midnight on December 24 almost 67 years ago in Fargo, N.D. Her parents thought that was meaningful enough to name her for the occasion.

"They were fun like that," she said.

Depending on the situation, she sometimes goes by Chris, Chrissie or Christie. "One of my brother's friends called me Tree. After Christmas tree," she said.

But she said family members generally call her Christmas.

"I think if I had been shy about it, I might have been cheesed off by it, but I always loved it," she said. "I always get a very positive reaction."

Oberlander said while she's met plenty of Hollys and Noels, she's never met another Christmas Eve.

But another child born on Dec. 24, 1946, the same day as Oberlander, ended up named Mary Christmas.

Mary Christmas Pierson, a Minneapolis resident born in Burlington, Wis., said most of the time she's just Mary Pierson, but "every time someone sees a driver's license or anything like that, like a library card, they always make some kind of comment. Most of the time, it's a positive one."

"Even TSA agents, they will look at that passport, they'll chuckle and get that slight smile on their face," she said.

As a child, she enjoyed the extra attention teachers sometimes would give her because of her name, but she said her "little roughneck Midwestern farm kid" classmates weren't so kind to "little Mary Christmas."

"All my teachers loved it, and all my classmates made fun of it," she said.

In her mid-20s, Pierson gave herself the nickname Kitty, not because she didn't like Mary, but in honor of a favorite aunt, Catherine. She later shortened that to Kit, because "I worked at a veterinary hospital for a while, and that became a problem because there were so many kitties around."

But, Mary Christmas said, "In general, it's been a good name."

"I think they thought it would be fun," said Merry Eve Daher of her parents' decision to name her in honor of when she showed up, just before midnight Dec. 31, 1955. Daher, a Burnsville resident, said her parents also may have run out of ideas after naming six previous children.

But she said, "My youngest sister was born on Valentine's Day, and she was named Jo Ellen."

"I was supposed to be named something else," said Easter Marie Anderson of Pine Island. Anderson said her parents were planning to name her Sabrina.

But when the nurse told Anderson's mother that she had the first baby born on Easter 1964 at the hospital in Sun Prairie, Wis., "She said, 'Easter. That would be a good name.' "

"I can tell you there wasn't a lot of thought to it," Anderson said. " 'Easter.' It's been an interesting ride, I'll tell you that."

Her maiden name was actually Easter Ebneter.

"That was a tongue twister," she said. "I was happy to become an Anderson, because that was a mouthful."

She said she frequently has to correct people who can't believe she's Easter.

"It's always Esther. Everyone always thinks it's Esther," Anderson said. "The next question is, 'How did you get that name?' "

As a nurse, Anderson sometimes works on holidays. One Christmas day, the phone at work rang and she answered, "This is Easter."

"All I hear on the other end of the phone was laughter," she said.

She has a brother who was born on Thanksgiving. "He didn't get a funny name," she said. And her daughter was born on March 17. "There was no way I was going to name my daughter after a holiday," she said.

Not Patrick Garza. Most people don't know that Patrick is his middle name. But the Red Wing man was born on March 17, 1952, and his full name is Saint Patrick Garza.

"I think it was mostly because my mother had a girl's name in mind, and when I came out a boy, I think she was at a loss for a name," Garza said.

He said coming from a Hispanic Catholic family, "if you were born on a saint's day, it's kind of an automatic thing."

"I was just thankful I wasn't born on Halloween," he said.

But for the most part, Garza doesn't refer to himself as Saint.

"It's just something I try to avoid, really," he said. "It's hard to live up to, so I just go by Patrick Garza."

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.
Real news can be honest, hopeful, credible, constructive.
What is the Monitor difference? Tackling the tough headlines – with humanity. Listening to sources – with respect. Seeing the story that others are missing by reporting what so often gets overlooked: the values that connect us. That’s Monitor reporting – news that changes how you see the world.

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to CSMonitor.com.

QR Code to Happy Thanksgiving is her name
Read this article in
QR Code to Subscription page
Start your subscription today