Posts Tagged ‘ Shell ’

What The Family Name Means To Me

Friday, February 15th, 2013

2 years, 2 months.

Dear Jack,

I don’t know whether it’s from the Vacation movies with the Griswolds, or maybe just a combination of every 80′s sitcom I grew up watching, but in my mind it’s the dad’s job to emphasize what it means to be a [enter last name here].

To illustrate, I’ll just use Growing Pains as an example here. I can easily imagine Jason Seaver telling Ben, “We Seavers are not quitters!”

Every once in a while you like to play with the seashells we collected from our trip to Naples, FL in December 2011.

You pour them out of the plastic cup we keep them in, then examine them one by one on the carpet.

I always think, “Jack, do you realize you are playing with our last name right now?”

Knowing it would just confuse you at this point to try to explain to you that our last name is Shell and what a last name even is, I just let you enjoy your playtime.

But I have been pondering what it means to be a Shell.

Unless you ever have a baby brother, you are basically the last male Shell in our family to carry on the name, since I was the only one until you got here.

Essentially, I figure so much of what it means to be a Shell has to do with the household culture that Mommy and I are raising you in.

I would definitely say in order to be Shell, you have to be a bit on the quirky side; never apologizing for being different, never being tempted to follow the crowd.

Work ethic is huge to our identity. We like to be known for working hard, being proactive, and thinking creatively.

When it comes to politics, we are conservative, yet open-minded and open-armed to different cultures.

In regards to financial decisions, we are as shrewd as my Italian grandfather who grew up in an orphanage during the 1930′s. (The day we pay for a smart phone or cable TV is the day they give it to us for free!)

We are equally as disciplined when it comes to nutrition, being sticklers for reading ingredients while being liberal on calories.

Shells are deep thinkers, always curious of where stuff comes from and how it got here.

To us, God is not simply the third word of OMG, but the one we try to please everyday in the way we treat others.

You are a Shell. You’re one of us. You are destined to encompass the best and worst of our family’s micro-culture.

However, in regards to the importance that individuality plays in our family, I recognize that despite the way that Mommy and I will inevitably “brainwash” you in our weird ways as we raise you, still you have free will to make your own decisions and form your own opinions; especially the older you get.

So while you are one of us no matter what, you’re still you. And I like the micro-culture you bring to our family. After all, I write a letter to you about it everyday.





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Passing on the Family Name

Friday, October 15th, 2010

Thirty-six weeks.

It wasn’t until this weekend while visiting my parents in Alabama that I fully realized something: When Baby Jack is born, he will be the only male Shell (beyond me) to pass on the name, unless I eventually have another son.  My mom was telling me how we will need to get a “generational picture” taken, including my grandfather (John Shell), my dad (Jack Shell), myself (Nick Shell), and Baby Jack.  My dad only has one brother (Johnny Shell) and he only had daughters.  And I have no brothers.  So Baby Jack will carry on the Shell name, which translates in German as “loud and noisy”.

While the namesake is just that, a name, it still carries on an idea of the people with that name.  Not only their bloodline and physical characteristics, but also a reputation of that name.  When I think of what the Shell name stands for, I think of my grandfather (who I call “Paw Paw Shell”), my Uncle Johnny, and of course, my dad, because they are the three male Shell’s most closely related to me.  They all work very hard, will do anything for the family, will not tolerate any b.s. or drama, are extremely down to Earth, have a passion for classic cars, prefer The History Channel over watching sports on TV, and will always choose the great outdoors over the city life because they all live in the wooded mountains (which is different than living out in the country, by the way).

Physically, male Shell’s are between 5’ 7” and 5’ 11” (no shorter, no taller), have dark brown or black hair, have a thin frame, have a fairly prominent nose (not noticeably huge, but never smaller than average), are known to show up at each other’s houses unannounced, and have a weak spot for Moon Pies.  For me, there is just something about being “a Shell” that is distinguished.  Not in a classy way like the Vanderbilt name, or Presidential like the Kennedy name, but it’s the idea that when you meet someone with the Shell name, you’ll never forget them.  Shell’s stand out from the crowd.  Not in a “loud and noisy” aspect like the name actually implies, but set apart in a sense that if you know one of us, you know all of us.  And really, that’s how I imagine most families are.

It’s in a man’s heart to want to pass on the family name.  Not just for the sake of legacy, but also because of pride.  And while pride is typically a bad thing, when it comes to family, pride is a necessary staple.  I am proud to be a Shell, and proud to bring another one into this world.

All pictures with the “JHP” logo were taken by Joe Hendricks Photography:



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The Gender of the Baby

Friday, June 18th, 2010

“Sadie, Chloe, Sammy, or Max, chillin’ in a baby sack.  Tristan, Evan, Lily, Zoey, or Jack…” -Candy Butchers, “Let’s Have a Baby”

Nineteen weeks.

After my grandmother’s dream and my wife’s co-worker’s psychic’s prediction of it being a girl, it was pretty obvious to us what the gender of our baby would be.  I drove down to the appointment yesterday full of excitement, knowing that I could finally tell everyone that our intuition was correct once I would get the official confirmation.

Several anxious moments passed as the nurse showed us pictures our  our baby, then finally she asked us, “Do you want to know what it is?”

Laughing, full of confidence, we told her that we were quite sure already, but yes, tell us for sure.

“You’re having a boy.”

I wish I had a YouTube clip of our reaction.  “WHAT?!  NO WAY!  ARE YOU SERIOUS?!”  Etc., etc.  All exclaimed while hysterically laughing.

Not that it mattered either way to us.  I just don’t think I’ve ever been more surprised in my life.  I wish there was a way to type in a “laughing font” to better show my tone here.  I’m so happy!  We’re having a boy!

This is an "under the scrotum" shot.

Of course now it’s time to answer the other question: What are you naming him?

First name: Jack

Middle name: William

Last name: Shell

Here’s how we came up with the name:

He will go by “Jack”, which is my dad’s name.

Which is an alternate version of John, which is Hebrew (Jewish) for “God’s grace”.  Which just sounds like a cool name.  It’s simple, not too popular, and easy to spell and say.  And Jack also happens to be the name of the lead character of the best show ever made, LOST (played by Matthew Fox, who is also part Italian.)

Jack is the size of a mango.

Plus, my wife’s name is Jill… so it’ll be “Jack and Jill”.

His middle name, William, (my wife’s dad’s name) is German and loosely translates as “protector”.

His last name, Shell, (originally spelled “Schel” at some point in American history) is German and loosely translates to “loud and noisy”.

That being said, Jack William Shell is a Jewish-German-German name which fully translates as “God’s gracious gift of loud and noisy protection.”  I’m already picturing a little boy wearing a pot on top of his head, running around the house, banging a pan with a wooden spoon, being “loud and noisy”.

Most importantly, Baby Jack is healthy, thank God!

Jack, the boy.  Who knew?

All pictures with the “JHP” logo were taken by Joe Hendricks Photography:



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