Guest Post By Kara Wiegand
I LOVE the holidays. I love the feeling I get when I picture my family sipping on hot chocolate, sitting around the Christmas tree illuminated by the perfect hue of holiday lights. Now, let’s be honest: as a wife and mother of two young girls (Avery & Bryn) and two dogs (Kona & Sparkles), I am 100% certain that this perfect moment has never occurred. But still, there it lives in my brain and I will continue to believe in its possibility as I dream of holidays to come.
Holiday shopping, on the other hand, has the exact opposite effect on me. When I think about buying gifts for my friends and family, the stress and anxiety hits me like a ton of bricks; and now more than ever before. Over the past few years, I have been educated more and more about the way the world works and the impact our U.S. dollars have on the lives of people around the world. It is not pretty, people. The more I learn, the guiltier I feel about being a consumer. Believe me, as a woman and mother, the last thing I need is MORE GUILT!
Don’t worry, there is an answer! Just research everything you buy and make sure that your purchase doesn’t exploit anyone, support bad trade practices, use materials that are hazardous, destroy the environment or send the wrong message to our children about gender roles, body image or their overall worth. What’s that you say? The mineral used in the coolest new electronic gadget is contributing to the war in the Democratic Republic of the Congo where women are being raped and people are being murdered in mass numbers? Scratch that idea. Come again? The new toy that my nephew wants was made by another child forced to work 14 hours a day in dangerous working conditions? Nope, can’t do it. Oh, really? The Barbie my daughter has been begging for will cause her to hate her body and fuel feelings of self-loathing and disgust? Crap, now what?
Oh yeah, and after you make sure of all of these things, make sure it’s something that your family or friend is not going to hate. As a mom, I struggle with this especially when shopping for my girls. I strive to teach them the true meaning of the holidays: the importance of family, of spending time with loved ones and coming together to show love and support for others. For a 5 and almost 3-year-old, the concept of fair and ethical trade is hard to grasp, especially in the face of this year’s latest and greatest. Do I sacrifice morals and values entirely and succumb to consumerism? Do I only shop fair trade? Do I meet in the middle somewhere?
In writing this, I realize that my choice is clear. My choice is to live my truth and make choices that support the vision of who I want to be in the world versus choosing an inauthentic path driven by my desire to have people like me. Who do I want to be in the world? I want to be a loving, compassionate, empathic, empowering, inspiring woman. And, I have a choice to be that every minute of every day. This holiday season, I will be taking the time to make informed decisions about my consumerism and make purchases that positively affect others. Are some family members going to be disappointed that they didn’t get exactly what was on their wish list? Maybe. Is someone going to see me as preachy or self serving or on my high horse? Possibly. Is this going to wage World War III with my kids when they open their gifts to realize the newest Disney princess is not in the box? Most likely. Oh well, some things are just too important. Time to start shopping!
Kara Wiegand is a founder of Threads Worldwide, a social enterprise that provides sustainable income opportunities for women worldwide through the creation and sale of fair trade jewelry and accessories. Kara is passionate about empowering women because she believes it is the most effective way to eradicate poverty, strengthen families and better our global community. She has over 12 years experience in the non-profit sector with a focus on business development, sponsorship, accounting and finance. She holds a B.A. from Tufts University, and a M.A. in Counseling Psychology from the University of Colorado at Denver. She is a proud wife and mother of two beautiful young girls who inspire her daily to be courageous and honor her passions. In her free time she enjoys playing the guitar, singing, playing volleyball and spending time with her husband and girls in Boulder, CO.