Throw away the old adage, "something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue," when it comes to a big dress on a big day in a girl's life, because that deals with a wedding, and we are talking about a christening. For the Colp family of Oxford, they feel it more appropriate to go with "old, older, oldest," when it comes to the dress young Emily Catherine Colp wore during her christening last Saturday.
At just under five months old, young Emily Colp became the 68th member of her family to wear Mary Catherine O'Malley's 1912 christening dress. The family tradition has been at work for 95 years, and at Emily's christening five generations of her family were present to see it used once again in a tradition that is not soon to die.
For years and years, child after child, boy after girl in the O'Malley bloodline have been christened in what started out as Anna Mary Boland O'Malley's wedding dress. Every time a child is born under the branches of the family tree the clothes are sent from their hiding place at Cay Townsend's Silver Springs, Md, home to the household of a newborn child for use in the traditional christening ceremony. After the ceremony the clothes are shipped back to Townsend for safe keeping. Townsend is the sister of Mary Ellen McCormack, Emily's paternal grandmother.
"Ninty-five years is a long time," said McCormack. "They are becoming fragile so Cay takes care of them."
For the family, the clothes bring with them a sense of pride in family heritage, as well as the respect of loved ones past.
"You'll be blacklisted if you lose them," said Rusty Colp, the father of young Emily.
Included with the christening dress will be various items from Emily's mother, Toni Colp, and Toni's late brother, who also serves as Emily's godfather, Christopher Sciotti.
"She (Emily) is covered head to toe," said McCormick.
Items from Sciotti to be added to Emily's dress include 15-year-old cap and booties, and Toni's additions, which are 25 years old, include a slip and socks from her christening clothes. Each item adds even more history to the family dress, which dates back beyond the 20th century.
Union United Methodist Church in West Nottingham was the site for Emily's christening. She was joined there by her maternal great great-grandmother Catherine Galluppi of Perkasie, maternal great-grandparents Antoinette and Alfred Sciotti of Oxford, maternal grandparents Anthony Sciotti of Oxford and Tammy Beatty of Landenberg, paternal grandparents Mary Ellen and Michael McCormack of Kirkwood, parents Toni and Rusty, godmother Mary Evans of Rising Sun, Md, godfather Vincent Sciotti of Wellsboro and many more. Altogether over 100 family members and friends joined the Colps in celebrating their daughter's big day.
"It is hard to keep all of the family traditions straight, but we are making it through," said Toni.
The clothes are now on their way back to Silver Springs, Md, where they will be prepared to be sent to the next baby in the O'Malley bloodline who is to be christened.
"We are sending them off to Texas next," said McCormack. "That will be the tenth state the clothes have visited in the 95 years."
Dillon Clayton Doyle is the most recent addition to the bloodline, having been born Jan. 9. He will be the next to wear the clothes and the first to usher in a new year of traditions for the family, which clings so tightly to its roots.