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Home for the Holidays

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Annual Christmas tour of homes is Sunday

By Greg Summers

Four Lancaster families will roll out a yuletide carpet Sunday for the Lancaster Garden Club’s 23rd annual Christmas Tour of Homes. Here is a brief glimpse at what you can see.

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Ballard focuses on comfort

When it comes to opening the doors of his home Sunday, Realtor Casey Ballard said hopes the decorations at Meadow Drive will pass muster.

“The time has really slipped up on us and it’s here,” Ballard said. “I guess I’m about as ready as I’ll ever be.”

Ballard is the lone bachelor on the tour. But he isn’t alone when it comes to the scope of his hall decking.

“I’ve always enjoyed it and try to incorporate something new every year,” he said. “I try to decorate with things that reflect friends and family.”

However, new doesn’t mean trips to the store. Much of the greenery Ballard uses comes from his Forest Hills neighbors.

“I have found a lot throughout the neighborhood and folks are always glad to help,” Ballard said.

Ballard said his main objective is to add a feeling of holiday warmth throughout his home with simple, unpretentious design. He said it’s all a matter of taste.

“To me, home is home and you want it to feel that way, especially at Christmas,” he said. “Yes, I want it to look nice and be enjoyed, but at the same time, I want it to feel comfortable and lived in. I mean, after all, it is home.”

Brices let kids lend little hands

For Will and Dabney Brice, hanging Christmas lights and holiday stockings has three special challenges; Blake, 5, Carson, 3, and Kennedy, 4 months.

Since Dabney is a kindergarten teacher at North Elementary School, she knows how inquisitive children that age can be when it comes to ornaments, garland and nutcracker soldiers.

“There’s been some do and redo,” Dabney said, laughing.

While most mothers might see young children as a hindrance while preparing a home for the Tour of Homes, Dabney doesn’t.

Sunday’s expected guests have given the Brice family a greater appreciation for the holiday season.

“When we started, we let the children help,” Dabney said. “We let them handle some things so they can feel like they’re a part of it and they certainly are,” Dabney said. “It’s been especially good for Blake.

“I’ve learned as a teacher that boys his age want to show a little independence in their own way and  want to be involved,” she said.

While the Brice home has various schemes in each room, Dabney said she and Will don’t focus on any specific holiday look.

The kitchen is decorated with Christmas candies and the den is a sea of red and gold. One thing they both enjoy is the snow village they have amassed in nine years of marriage.

“It sounds sort of funny, but I don’t think either of us have a favorite,” she said. “I thought our eight big trees and the other small ones were a lot until I found out the Tiptons have 20,” Dabney said. “We just really enjoy Christmas with our family. That’s what we focus on.”  

Work influences Rodgers’ home

For many, mementos of home make it to the office, but not Cindy Rodgers.

For Rodgers and her family, it’s the exact opposite.

The Christmas tree in the living room of her and Quinton’s Providence Crossing home in the Elgin community bear the touch of work.

Many of the tree ornaments are gifts from Cindy’s clients at the Cutting Edge hair salon.

“I have close to 150, and that’s just at home,” she said. “We have another tree at the shop with ornaments on it that stays up year round. We enjoy it and it gives the customers something to enjoy.”

The Rodgers’ home is decorated in shades of deep green, vibrant red and shiny gold. The entrance into the home is decked with fresh-cut greenery.

“We’re really into the more traditional look,” Cindy said.

Cindy said her aunt, Mary Frances Black, is a big part of the decorating. She said both women love the Christmas season.

“It’s something we have a lot of fun with,” Cindy said, laughing. “She tries to beat me on who will be the first to listen to Christmas music. Through the years, that’s become a holiday tradition for us, too.”

Tiptons center on Jesus’ birth

If anyone in Lancaster County understands the commercialization of Christmas, it’s Talenna Tipton.

After all, the mother of six is married to Chris Tipton, manager of Walmart.

“Oh yes,” she said. “I definitely understand and see that side of it more than most.”

However, when the Tiptons added family ornaments to the Christmas tree at Taylor’s Grove Baptist Church last Sunday, it was a sure sign that her heart is where her treasure lies.

Six of the ornaments were crosses and two of them were angels.

For Talenna, the true miracle of Christmas is still found in a manger.

“I’ve had people tell me we’re one of the few houses around that still has a Nativity scene,” she said. “But that’s what Christmas means. It’s about the birth of God’s son.”

However, Talenna does admit to a special affection for Christmas trees, which is evident to everyone. The Tiptons have their share of Christmas trees, 20.

“I have a friend back home who is into Christmas trees and got me hooked, too,” she said.

Although a walk through the Tiptons Hickory Estates home may compare to a trip to a Christmas shop, Tallena makes sure the true meaning of the holidays isn’t lost.

She said the evergreen trees are a sure sign that God’s love doesn’t fade away or die, just like a risen savior.

She also sees the Christmas Tour of Homes as a way to share her deep, abiding faith.

“The reds, greens and golds, I know what all the colors mean, too,” she said. “It’s all about Jesus.”

Interested?

WHAT: Lancaster Garden Club’s 23rd annual Christmas Tour of Homes

WHEN: 2 to 5 p.m. Sunday

WHERE: Casey Ballard, 933 Meadow Drive (Forest Hills); Mr. and Mrs. Will Brice, 1139 Craig Ave. (Arrowood); Mr. and Mrs. Quinton Rodgers, 2371 Avalon Lane (Providence Crossing); and Mr. and Mrs. Chris Tipton, 1933 Tara Trail (Hickory Estates)

HOW MUCH: Tickets are $10 and proceeds  provide scholarships for Clemson University’s Teaching KATE (Kids about the Environment) and Camp Wildwood. Tickets are available from any garden club member or the Lancaster County Council Arts inside Springs House, 201 W. Gay St.; The Cutting Edge, 211 W. Barr St.; Elizabeth Ann Interiors & Gifts, 400 N. Main St.; Winona’s Flowers & Gifts, 3177 Pageland Highway; and at each home on the tour.