It’s usually the first thing a person says upon meeting someone new. It’s something that’s attached to a person for life. It’s how you’re identified everywhere. 

It’s a name and it is the very first thing that defines us.

There’s usually a story behind every one of them. 

My due date was Dec. 16 but Mama always knew I was coming on Christmas.

“Deep in my bones, I knew,” she told me.

And so I was born at 7:37 a.m. Christmas Eve morning. 

Mama had planned to name me Lindsey Lee Wood — two family names, simple and sweet. 

But when it came time to name me, Mama hesitated. She wouldn’t fill out the birth certificate and kept telling the nurse to come back later. 

Mama was running out of time and got a pen and paper and started doodling. She was filled with Christmas spirit and wanted my name to reflect that special day I came.

Christy was too literal, no. 

“That won’t do,” I can hear Mama saying it.

Holly Wood? 

Thank goodness that one was a no. 

Then it came to her — Santana. S-A-N-T-A.. N-A.

My nanny, who lived in Knoxville, Tennessee, was on the phone with Mama after I was born. Nanny was eager to know my name. When she heard the name Mama had nearly decided on, Nanny screamed, “Santana! That’s it!”

And that’s how I got my name.

My full name is Lindsey Santana Lee Wood but I go by Santana. I’ve lived my whole life being called Lindsey during roll call at school, at the doctor, etc. I’m used to either going with it or saying, “I actually go by Santana, thanks.”

I am happy to have a unique name and love the story behind how I came to be Santana.

I would say about 98% of people I meet immediately ask me if I’m named after the guitarist, Carlos Santana.

No, not quite.

A name carries a lot of weight. I can understand parents’ hesitation when naming a child. It’s going to be stuck with a person forever. From a tiny infant who hasn’t even grown into his or her name yet to a grown adult who will sign their name on all their important documents and big purchases, have it on their business cards and more.

I even have trouble naming my pets; I can only imagine when I have to name a kid one day.

But let’s be real. 

Most girls have their children named by the time they’re 10 years old. I admit I’m one of those girls. 

When I was a little girl, Mama labeled a jar “Names for my grandchildren” and we’d write names on little pieces of paper and throw them in there. It’s funny to look back at today.

If you don’t know the true story behind your name and your parents are still living, ask them. You might learn something about yourself you never knew.

If you have children who don’t know the story behind their names, share it with them.

If you plan to have children but don’t have them yet, know how important it is to put endless amounts of thought into what you’ll name them when the time comes. People name their kids all kinds of things these days, and it’s important to have a name that means something.

To quote my favorite movie, “Where the Heart is,” “Give that baby a name that means something — a good, sturdy name.”

Santana Wood is the assistant managing editor of The Outlook.