In Love Anwar: Don’t Get Caught in Holiday Consumerism

Actress and activist GABRIELLE ANWAR points to the benefits of making things homemade for the holidays.

This holiday season, don’t get caught up in consumerism. Try your hand at a homemade gesture, in the kitchen or at the craft table.  Create your list of friends & family you wish to receive something special, and go about an elf -like assembly line of crafting, baking, sewing or knitting, whatever knack you have, put it to task. Glean inspiration from a site like Etsy, and maybe utilize their expertise for custom trinkets, even gift cards and wrapping. Cloth alternatives to paper wrap is a great investment, as it is entirely re-usable and you can cut your own ribbons and embellishments. I like using a gauzy off white fabric, with beige velvet ribbon, adding a few vintage bells and a sprig of holly & berries. If creating your own treasures is too overwhelming with a baby underfoot, don’t feel obligated to shop ’til you drop. Money is tight with children to care for, and buying a gift, just because it’s December is a ludicrous concept when you take a step back and look at the grand scheme of things. How about taking a great baby photo, or new family portrait in a beautiful, natural environment; a forest, a meadow, in the garden, the beach, and buy a collection of frames, pop the photos in, wrap and ta-da! a unique personal gift!

Shareef Malnik and Gabrielle Anwar at the Make-a-Wish Ball in Miami

Going to the mall can be tricky with Baby during the holidays. It’s a mad house. If you must hit the stores, leave Baby with hubby, family or a sitter and fight the frenetic consumers on your own. But keep in mind, why are you feeling obligated to shop? Social pressure, expectation, guilt? Adjust your mindset to meet new goals, of the novel definition of FAMILY, now that you are The Mama, you can call the shots, set the tone, reimagine your traditions and rituals. Introducing your own holiday rituals is a beautiful way to bring family together, be it immediate or extended, including grandparents, aunts and uncles.

Think carefully about what values you’d like to instill, that you will commit to every holiday season. Our family is an unusual mix of cultures and religious influence, so I reclaimed December as Yuletide, celebrating nature and mother earth, feasting and ritual, fire and music define the entire month as we as a family decorate our pine tree, with heirlooms and homemade treasures. We spend the weeks up to the 25th hand making individualized gifts for family and friends.

Our rituals culminate at our Yuletide feast where we celebrate the blessings of the year past. When New Year’s Eve comes to pass, we light the fire once more, and while we dine, and sip wine, we write our shortcomings on one side of paper, and the hopes and goals of the new year on the other. We read our intimate scripture out loud, accountable and vulnerable, and then claim the Hero’s Journey ahead. The papers are tossed into the flames, and we let go of the past and take strength from the heat of the heart of the fire. This ritual has become our favorite of the year, since before the children could write and they would simply announce, their faux pas and dreams, then toss paper into the hearth.

I encourage taking hold of your moment to begin a new history that you as a family can be proud of. Set goals, ignite dreams and bid farewell to the lessons learned. It is a surprisingly cleansing practice and has brought us all closer together in support and forgiveness.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email