If you only think of Kristin Davis as the wide-eyed socialite Charlotte York from HBO’s Sex and the City, you’re missing the big picture — something the actress has never avoided in her personal life. Since 2006, Davis has made repeated trips to Africa as a Global Ambassador for Oxfam. She also works as a spokesperson, fundraiser and activist for The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust in Nairobi, a haven for orphaned elephants and rhinoceroses. But Davis still believes in the power of laughter, something she’ll be making us do again this winter, when her new show, Bad Teacher, debuts on CBS. In the meantime, she’ll be taking some time to enjoy the holidays with her daughter and her family, as well as the Indian elephant god, Ganesh. We caught up with Kristin before our online-only sale, ‘A Christmas Thing’, which runs from December 2-11.
How will you spend the holidays this year?
I usually go to South Carolina to see my parents for the holidays. We used to take trips sometimes, but since I adopted my daughter, it is fun for us to stay at my parents’ and spend time with the whole family. Last year, she was one-and-a-half and really enjoyed the lights and decorations, so I’m really looking forward to her reactions this year! You really do get to relive childhood through the eyes of your children.
What’s your favorite holiday tradition?
I think my favorite thing about the holidays is something we have always really enjoyed doing together: baking. My mother is an amazing cook, and I have great memories of our time in the kitchen together. Now my little girl has joined the tradition. She loves to stir and sit on the kitchen floor with her own “baking” tools when we are busy in the kitchen. And of course it’s really fun to eat it all!
What kind of gifts do you treasure most?
I am so lucky in my life and I really have everything that I could ever want, so my favorite gifts are the kind that give twice: to the recipient and to someone in need. For the children in my life, I like to “adopt” orphaned baby elephants for them from The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust. They will get monthly updates about their elephant all year, and it is a wonderful way for them to learn about animals and how much care they need.
You’re from the South, so do you associate snow with the holidays?
I’m from South Carolina so, no, I don’t really picture snow for Christmas. Lots of fresh pine boughs and red velvet ribbon, holly berries from the bushes in the yard — those are the images I associate with the season. I love traditional and pretty [things].
Is there art that inspires your work?
Sometimes a really evocative portrait will spring to mind when I am acting, like a Lucien Freud (any of them!). I own a few [Takashi] Murakami pieces. The way he mixes whimsical imagery with deeper meaning is exciting to me. And I love photographs, especially vintage and landscape.
Do you have a keepsake that has special meaning for you?
The only object I have with me in all of my homes (and dressing rooms and trailers), is some form of Ganesh, the elephant god, remover of obstacles… I have small silver statues of him and large wooden carvings. I like to have him in some form everywhere I go.
What do you give thanks for this holiday season?
I am able to live a wonderful life with [my daughter] that involves my acting work, but also my philanthropic work. I feel so lucky to be able to try to make a contribution to the important things going on in the world. And to have my daughter with me makes it all mean so much more!
(Image: Kristin Davis in Kenya at The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust.)