Probably my favorite store in London would be the infamous Fortnum and Mason on Piccadilly Road. There's no better time than at Christmas to visit, because it is known around the world for its fascinating window displays.
This year the designer Paul Symes and his team started in April planning the holiday windows, and chose as their focus to feature 6 paintings from the National Gallery in which they would make a 3 D display of the painting, using solid objects, and adding a little Christmas twist in each one.
For example, Pissaro's Foxhill Upper Norwood painting was painstakingly recreated and included an addition to the original of fairy lights on a Christmas tree along the right.
A Winter's Scene with Skaters Near a Castle by Avercamp
Without a 3D camera, you will have to use your imagination in these pictures to have an idea of the intricate perspective of each vignette as you peered into the windows.
Still Life With a Drinking Vessel by Claesz was fascinating, with the linen cloth spilling out the window and the small strawberries almost tumbling out of the frame.
One of Canaletto's Grand Canal paintings featured a small Christmas tree in one of the gondolas.
Once inside, the decorations continued to be jaw-dropping as greenery cascaded down through the middle of 5 floors, all the way down to the food hall underground.
The store had its beginnings in the early 1700's and it wasn't long after that, that they became known for their gift "hampers" filled with food goods.
Here's a hamper they were featuring in the store this year that was priced at £750 or the equivalent of $1,150. However, if you really wanted to treat someone special this holiday, you could give them the Imperial hamper valued at £5000.
The closest I ever got to receiving a hamper was this surprise box that was delivered to our door one day earlier this year, sent to us by a delightful house guest.
It featured chocolates, cookies (or biscuits,) jam, tea and a pudding. We were ecstatic to be on the receiving end of that gift, and the box itself with its famous azure and gold color is now a special keepsake.
But back to Christmas, we are now in Texas once again after several delays getting out of London's Heathrow, and the preparations are all ready for family gatherings Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and New Year's Day. Joy abundant!
I leave you with a photo of my favorite ornament of the year that I found in Liberty's this season. A little glass suitcase featuring London on the side, representing our life at this season, as we have the best of both worlds traveling back and forth between Houston and London.
May you and your loved ones experience the joy of the season, the laughter of times shared together in love, and the blessings of our Father who sent us the best gift of all, his Son.