My eldest son had three “costume changes” for his baptism. Above, was the a bit too white Christening gown that I bought him based exclusively on the fact that it had the most lace (I’m Cuban.)
Below was the outfit that he wore to begin the baptism. It’s The Family Gown. All Cubans have one of these and all grandmothers will feign heart problems if the child does not wear it for at least half the baptism. Cuban grandmothers are second only to Jewish ones for chest clutching. (Important note: The cross my son is wearing was worn by my grandfather as he landed on Omaha Beach the day after D Day – and the same one that protected him on his march to Munich – from said bloody beach, with shrapnel in his legs. My son is blessed with his eyes – and lets hope – his astounding sense of courage, duty and family.)
After wearing the same gown his grandpapa wore and the lace concoction mummy bought him – it was time for the “luncheon” outfit…
(Tia Pat and Uncle Jess holding their great-nephew.)
And then. Like any good Cuban man – it was off with the shirt – but never naked, as he was in gold and a hat. (How did we NOT have a cigar for this shot?!)
Yes. Our men wear bracelets.
All in all, it was a wonderful, tradition and family filled day. Exactly as it should be.
I packed away my sons Baptism gown and didn’t think I would think about again until my grandchildren were born.
I got pregnant.
Had the Angel Gabriel woken me up with a warm Chai and bagel, I couldn’t of been more shocked. In fact, I didn’t even realize my “situation” for 3 months. Imagine.
So. Once again, as a Catholic, I had to decide: What will he wear after The Family Gown?
Having not been perfectly pleased with Too White dress that my eldest wore and wanting my second son to have his own gown, I scoured the internet looking for something antique or vintage that would suit. Something with lace and the natural patina of time.
Not as easy as I thought.
I searched Italian, French and English sites – and found nothing. There was lace – but with bows or pink accents. There was silk, but without enough lace. There was old – but too Victorian and cotton. There just wasn’t what I wanted.
I liked the idea – but didn’t have my grandmothers gown on hand. So. I bought someone elses.
There are simply scads of old (affordable) wedding dresses at vintage stores across the country. And most of them are simply dripping in lace. After a few weeks I found an old, tea colored by time, Edwardian dress that I thought would be perfect.
Someones size 0 grandmama looked rather fetching sometime in the 20′s wearing this. And she liked lace too.
I ordered it immediately.
I then sent the dress, which smelled of mothballs and time, to Erika Mills at Petite Parfait. And this is what she returned to this Jane Austin loving mama…
Classic, reeking of age and timelessness, I now have exactly what I wanted: a dress worthy of a prince with SOUL.
Perfect for generations of grandsons or granddaughters, my newest son and heir will be wearing something that is both almost 80 years old – and yet brand new and never seen before. Its green. Its classic. Its an heirloom twice over. And I could not be happier.
Rather than buy a gown that is made by the hundreds or thousands (which material has been doused in chemicals), consider re-purposing that too small to ever be worn by modern woman wedding gown that is crumbling in the attic – or at your local vintage store. I’m sure that Erika would be happy to convert it into the perfect Christening gown for you.
-"The Green Stork" Claire Douglass is a first time Chicago mom, concerned with ever increasing data connecting childhood health issues from asthma to autism to exposure to common household toxins, chemicals and air quality – seeks to detoxify her nest, and create as green a nursery and playroom as possible.Without driving herself, or her husband, crazy. The former is going far better than the latter.