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Reggae Raisin


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I love costumes. I love getting dressed up because it really helps my imagination make the leap to believe that I am who I say I am.

Alessandro Nivola

Costumes are the first impression that you have of the character before they open their mouth - -it really does establish who they are.

Colleen Atwood

Gentle Holiday Readers,

It is time once again to start dusting off our holiday attire and seasonal decorations and gadgets. I'm always inspired at the beginning of autumn to decorate the house and gardens with harvest themed adornment. Of course, I am always presented with the question of "how much is too much?" when it comes to doing all this. I have a Santa friend who describes a woman of some years as not so much "decorating" for Christmas as "slathering everything" with Christmas. I hope I'm not quite that bad, but is a haunted house with several mechanical ghouls really out of line for the communal laundry room? I guess I'll find out soon.

My history of costuming goes back a lot of years with my kids challenging me to make them bigger, better, brighter costumes every year. When they were little, we had an annual Halloween event in downtown Boulder called the "Mall Crawl." Since Boulder is a college town, with lots of creative, new-agey types, the costumes were so exceptional and wonderful, we were all inspired to do great things. One year, my little Katey wanted to be a California Raisin - - you know the cartoon one that sang "Heard it through the Grapevine?" It was absolutely the hardest costume I had ever made - - until then. The California raisin costume consisted of about ten yards of heavy brown suede cloth sewn to quilting batting and gathered with heavy duty thread. My simple sewing machine was unable to accommodate the quilting that was required, or the heavy material. It took me hours and hours of late nights after work, and home work, and dinner, crying into the wee hours, pricking my fingers until they bled, to get that darn thing done. And I'll never let that kid forget it, either! For those of you with stories of how you labored in birth, my tale of woe is the labor and toil over the grape of wrath. I topped the costume off with oversized sunglasses and white gloves from the Ritz, and looped Marvin Gaye's version of Grapevine on a cassette tape that played in a big boom box the kid carried. All in all, with materials and time, I think the raisin costume was worth about $1,500.

As usual, it snowed on Halloween, and the costume was toasty warm, worn with winter tights and snow boots. Later that night, I wore it over a sexy devil costume for the Mall Crawl. While dancing to a Jamaican band in the crisp fall night, I was given the nickname "Reggae Raisin from Hell," because my devil tail peaked out from under the costume.

A few years ago (and many Halloween costumes later) this same child, now grown and with three children, challenged me to make a "Steam punk" costume and attend a convention where people dressed up in their fancy gear and met with others. It included Sci-fi buffs, and Trekkies, and Steam punkers and others of a similar ilk sometimes called "Cos-Players."

This Halloween, I'll be going to my second annual kids festivities in Fruita, Colorado, as a Steam punk Fairy Godmother. They bring out the big trucks and tractors and the cop cars and a limousine and a school bus dressed up scary and lots of candy hand outs. Parents still make costumes for their kids, but mostly I see the store bought ones - - the Disney princesses and the Star Wars warriors lots of merchandising and little imagination.

Of course its hard to make a costume. It takes time and energy and patience beyond belief and I understand why people don’t want to do it. Then, I go to a comic-con and see that I am ever so wrong, and there are still lots and lots of people out there being imaginative and making incredible costumes and parading around. Creativity makes me happy.

Well, I've come a long way from being the Reggae Raisin to being Santa Nana, but the costuming remains fun and challenging. This year, I'm working on a fur muff, and fur hat and lots of brooches and jewelry to shiny things up. I love hearing and seeing all the wonderful things the rest of you are doing, too. The woodworking, the toys, badges, belt buckles, staffs and so much more. Keep up the magical work.

Santa Nana

Be good, for goodness sake!

Nana's tip of the day: My friends and I have a little something called "first right of refusal" when it comes to posting of personal pictures. If I tell someone I'm not pleased with a photo that includes me, they will immediately unpost/delete it. I think all Santas should abide by this rule. I would especially like to request that if a person in a photo is UNABLE to make or communicate their opinion of a photo that includes them, for instances if they are IN A COMA, please do not post it! Be especially cognizant of pictures taken of people who are sick in the hospital. I do not want my picture taken and distributed while I am sick in the hospital, but I may be too weak to tell you so. I also do not want to see pictures of my loved ones (or yours) doing the following things: drooling, exposing their buttocks from underneath a hospital garment, sporting unkempt hair and makeup (if they usually wore it), attached to life-support machinery, or . . . dead. Please be sensitive to your subjects. You may look great, but if someone in the pictures is in distress, please, please, please - - just don't post it.


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