by Susan Feeney Hopkins
Organizers and hosts of the first ever Christmas House Tour held in Ashland Dec. 9 are “very pleased” with the community turnout for their fund-raising event. The tour began at the Ashland Advent Church, with participants receiving their “passports” which allowed them admission to each home on the map.
The first home visited was that of Mary and Randy Caron. Santas and snowmen of all shapes and sizes abound in their home, decorated with not one, but three Christmas trees! The family room features a tree decorated for the birds, the kitchen’s tree is decorated with items for the cook, and the living room features a tree covered in Santas. For years family and friends of the Carons have gifted them with Santas, which can be found in every room and nook and cranny of their home. Their “favorite” Santas reside in special places within their home throughout the year to remind themselves and visitors the spirit of Christmas exists in Garfield all year long.
Home number two on the tour belonged to Dorothy King. Ms. King has been the present owner of her home since 1983 when she was thumbing through a magazine and became “intrigued” by its description as a “gentleman’s farm” as her husband Matthew had always wanted to own one. She somehow convinced him to drive from their home in Boston to Garfield to view the property. They fell in love with it and purchased it that year. They visited the home as often as they could until they moved there permanently in 1995. Visitors enjoyed the tour throughout her home especially the “fruit room,” the “bird” and “flower” rooms and the red accented “ironing room.”
The Ashland Congregational Church was the third stop on the tour. Established in 1896, the church has become well known for its beautiful Christmas greenery decorations. Church members began the tradition of decorating with greenery in 1976 to celebrate the church’s 100th anniversary. Since then, the church members meet before the first Sunday of Advent to continue the tradition.
Kevin and Jennifer Paradis used to slide on the hill together when they were children. When they were dating, they used to sit on the same hill to watch the Ashland Days fireworks show. This spot was always a special place for them, and in the 1990s they purchased 75 acres from Thomas Graham and built their home on that same hill. The couple has done most of the work themselves from the design, to digging the hole for the foundation! For them, it is a labor of love. The couple has adorned their home with a 12-foot Christmas tree decorated with an eclectic mix of ornaments from each of the grandparents and parents, homemade ornaments and a collection of ornaments purchased for each of their children. They hope the children will someday decorate their own trees with the ornaments from their youth.
The fifth home on the tour is known locally as the “Gallop House” referring to its past owner Lizzie Gallop, who once taught school children in the area. Today the Gallop House is owned by Barbara Rouse who is a certified and award-winning porcelain doll maker. Rouse and her late husband began teaching doll making in 1997. Their dolls have been displayed throughout the eastern United States and featured with DBA Harmony House Creations in exhibitions in Philadelphia, Boston and Miami. The picture window in the front of the house is filled by a beautiful angel welcoming visitors to linger over Rouse’s creations. Each doll is unique, some designed in the likeliness of family members and well known personalities such as Jackie Kennedy. Rouse’s home is filled with dolls and holiday spirits calling to wake your own special childhood memories.
The last home to be visited is owned by Sherri and Matt Calhoun. Their home began as “a cute little cabin for two, on the edge of the North Maine Woods.” The cabin was originally built by Don Bragdon in 1990. The Calhouns bought the property in 2000 looking forward to a “peaceful and relaxing setting.” Introduce two children and suddenly their cute cabin for two needed some growing room. The couple added on a new living room, master bedroom suite and a loft area for crafting. The duo is proud to call their décor “early American garage sale.” This is true of their Christmas decorations, as well. There are mittens and socks on their Christmas tree, some of which their children Micah and Ellie have worn. The bean pot that holds greens on the side porch was rescued from the dump. The kettle barrels are from the Sawyer’s yard sale. The Calhouns love to share their tree with family, friends and community visitors.
After the tours were complete, the visitors and home owners, along with community members, shared a chicken stew meal at the Ashland Advent Church and ended the day’s events with a community carol sing, which also featured several guest soloists. To say the Christmas House Tour was a success is an understatement. The participants and visitors all really enjoyed the experience. Best of all, this wonderful fund-raising event raised just over $800 for our local food pantry and thrift shop.
Hair to share
From the time Morgan Stevens was born, people had commented on her hair. Bestowed with thick, dark auburn red locks and curls, Morgan learned to accept the compliments, as they were so frequent and plentiful. When Morgan was seven years old, her mother, Margaret Lyons, decided it was time to have her daughter’s hair cut. Not wanting her hair just to be cut and swept away, she thoughtfully decided she would like to be able to give her hair to someone who may not have any.
Once her haircut was complete, she sent four 18-inch pieces to Locks of Love. During the same time, Morgan’s older brother, Taylor, who was in college, had decided to grow his hair out reasoning he needed to seize the opportunity as he said, “before he lost his hair” like his Dad and Papa. The following year, in preparation for a job interview, he cut his hair and — inspired by his sister — donated it to Locks of Love.
A few weeks ago, Morgan decided it “was time” to do it again and “share her hair with people who may have lost their own while fighting cancer.” She hopes it brings them a smile when people say “what pretty hair you have.”
Locks of Love has not been Morgan’s only charitable action. She also loves pets so for her eighth birthday, she asked her family and friends to bring items to the Central Aroostook Humane Society. They all did and everyone enjoyed their visit to the shelter that day.
Her parents, Margaret Lyons and Craig Stevens, along with her Grammy and Papa Lyons, are proud to see their daughter’s interest in helping others. May she always do so and inspire others in the process!
Susan Feeney-Hopkins is the correspondent for Ashland, Portage Lake, Oxbow, Masardis, Garfield, Nashville Plantation and the surrounding areas. She can be reached at 435-8232 or Feenhop@aol.com.