Faith - what the season's all about... Photo of store sign on Oxford Street, London for Holli and her Faith.
For readers participating in the Postcard Project earlier this year, a vintage postcard or Christmas card from Paris is now winging its way to you. Depending upon the holiday mail service and the distance the cards are traveling, yours may not reach you until New Year's. But it's the thought that counts, right? And I want to thank you for your enthusiastic participation in the project, as well as for consistently reading Paris Parfait.
While photographing beautiful Christmas windows in Paris and London, I've been struck by the artistry - the stylists' vision in taking elements of nature, combining them with luxurious clothing and fashioning beautiful vignettes. But in the stores - particularly in London - I was taken aback by the sheer commercialism and the volume of things we simply don't need.
Most of us are blessed to have what we need. A roof over our heads; food to eat; clothes to wear; (hopefully) reasonably good health; some simple pleasures and most importantly, the love of our family and friends. Yet the world is filled with people who have so little; with those who have lost so much.
For many years, I've had an interest in helping refugees and displaced persons forced from their homes. In places like Africa and the Middle East, time after time we've seen a mass exodus of refugees, fleeing some fresh tribal conflict or imminent danger.
I'll never forget meeting one beautiful young Palestinian woman who had married a rich, older man from Dubai. Her sole aim was that he would buy property and a home for her, as she and her family had lost everything in the 1948 Arab-Israeli war. Having lived her entire life as a refugee, her desperation in wanting something tangible for herself and her extended family was understandable.
But to see refugees in my own country defies all logic. Our government has failed the people of New Orleans. Cleaning up the mess of Hurricane Katrina has been left largely to private citizens and philanthropists. Many ongoing projects are rebuilding schools and homes.
I've been particularly impressed by the Make It Right project, initiated by Brad Pitt, 13 well-known architects and a group of New Orleans citizens. They're working to raise money to build environmentally-sound homes for citizens of the Lower Ninth Ward. Almost without exception, the homeowners in this area lost everything to flood damage. If these homes are built, many residents will be able to return home, after more than two years of living like refugees.
My husband and I are giving our children Christmas presents, as usual. But we have decided - in lieu of giffts to relatives and friends - to contribute to Make It Right. The foundation needs donations of any size to help get these houses built. Our assistance, collectively, will make the dream of going home just a bit more real for some New Orleans citizens. And especially at Christmas, couldn't we all use a little hope?
Photo of stack of holiday gifts at Liberty, London.