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By SUSAN CRATON

Staff writer

Tabatha Griffin of Bushwood says that her family “razzes” her about her enthusiasm for decorating their home for Christmas. But she thinks they would be upset if she didn’t go all out for the holiday.

“I normally start right before Thanksgiving,” Griffin said. And then she spends a couple of weeks transforming the home with seven Christmas trees — six theme related and one that features family ornaments — and with Nativity scenes as well as other holiday touches.

Though she uses snowmen and gingerbread and Santa Claus motifs in her decorations, the Nativity scenes are particularly important to her, Griffin said, because they point to what she sees as the reason for the holiday. “I don’t want the true meaning of Christmas to be lost. And the meaning of Christmas is the birth of Christ.”

Griffin says that her decorating style is not very formal. “In a lot of ways, I would describe my house as whimsical,” she said. “I do it because it brings me happiness.”

Whispering Wings Farm, the 42-acre farm that is Tabatha and Peter Griffin Jr.’s home, is one of the seven stops on the 18th Annual Health Share Holiday Home Tour that will be held this Sunday, Dec. 2, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Other stops this year include the Cheseldine home, Riverbrink and Point of Indecision, as well as the St. Clement’s Island Museum, as well as other locations in the Bushwood and Colton’s Point area.

The tour is a chance for area residents to get a glimpse of other families’ decorating ideas and holiday traditions and at the same time benefit Health Share of St. Mary’s. Health Share is a nonprofit organization that provides access to primary healthcare and funding for prescription medications to uninsured and underinsured adult county residents.

Anne Bell, co-chair of the tour along with Lucy Barbour, said the community’s support for the annual tour is crucial. Not only do families like the Griffins need to be willing to open their homes to the public so that the event can even happen, but those who buy tickets to take the tour provide critical funding for Health Share, which receives no federal, state or local funding.

It is funded entirely through “private contributions and proceeds from fundraisers,” with the holiday tour being one of the program’s largest fundraisers each year, Bell said.

Health Share was started in 1991 and has generally assisted from 600 to 1,300 clients each year. However, in the last several years, requests for assistance have increased, with the nonprofit now assisting closer to 1,500 clients regularly, Bell said.

Tickets for this year’s tour may be purchased in advance at a variety of area businesses or can be purchased the day of the tour at any of the featured homes. This year’s tour includes the following stops.

A. Whispering Wings Farm

Home of Peter and Tabatha Griffin

Directions: From Route 5 at Morganza, turn onto Colton Point Road going 3.9 miles to Clements or taking Budds Creek Road from Chaptico or Leonardtown, proceed to the intersection of Colton Point Road and Budds Creek Road at Clements. Remain or turn onto Colton Point Road for 4.4 miles and turn right onto Bushwood Wharf Road and proceed half a mile and turn left onto Whites Neck Road for .2 mile. Turning left onto Oscar Hayden Road, go .4 mile, turning left into 21890 Whispering Wings Farm.

Whispering Wings Farm is a waterfowl hunter’s dream. Late fall and winter seasons reveal the sight of hundreds of geese resting in the field. The house is nestled in the center of five ponds on the 42-acre property. The farm and ponds are gathering places year round for family and friends, many of whom are hunters and fishermen. The home was built in 1988 by Peter Griffin and Wayne Pilkerton. The ranch-style home features a partial stone front and a large screened-in porch and an inground pool. Fifteen-foot vaulted ceilings and a stone fireplace gives the family room a cozy feeling.

The Griffins’ home features six themed Christmas trees. In addition, a 10-foot traditional tree is in the family room decorated with Hallmark Collection ornaments, ornaments collected from vacation spots and ornaments crafted by the children. In the foyer is a tree decorated with snowmen ornaments. The smaller living room highlights rustic Christmas decor with the tree trimmed in hunting- and fishing-related ornaments. In the master bedroom, there is a tree with picture frame ornaments featuring family photos. The kitchen is decorated with gingerbread men and a tree filled with gingerbread and candy ornaments. As visitors approach the Griffin home, all are greeted by a large Nativity scene that serves as a reminder of the reason for Christmas.

B. Cheseldine Home

Home of Johnny, Kaylee and Cathy

Directions: Turn left onto Oscar Hayden Road, go .2 mile and turn left into 21850 Oscar Hayden Road.

Custom built in 2004, this Stratford rose brick rambler is located on 30 acres of land that was originally a part of the 1,300-acre, Cheseldine family-owned Whites Neck Farm, dating back to the 1800s. Designed as a gathering place, the open concept floor plan is a welcoming space for entertaining. Wide plank oak is the centerpiece of the 17-foot foyer from floor to ceiling. The double-sided fireplace features both brick and stone and is visible from the great room, living room, dining room, kitchen and sun room. Duck decoys hand carved by Johnny’s father, Bill, and grandfather, Clem, reflect the family’s history as local watermen. Clem Cheseldine’s model boats, oyster tongs and original local art of him as he worked on the Potomac River help illustrate the family’s history.

With the tree in the great room, Johnny follows his father’s tradition of a 12-foot live tree. Daughter Kaylee’s horse-themed tree, a duck decoy tree and antique family ornaments allow personal touches.

A raffle item is available at this site. Raffle tickets are $5 each.

C. Riverbrink

Home of Edward and Beth Bonifant

Directions: Get back on Oscar Hayden Road to stop sign and turn right onto Whites Neck Road to stop sign, then turn right onto Bushwood Wharf Road to stop sign, then turn right onto Colton Point Road and go three miles to turn right onto Waterloo Circle and going .2 miles and bearing right onto Waterloo Road, go half a mile and left into Wellington Court to the driveway at 20525.

Located in Colton’s Point on the Potomac River across from Stratford Hall and with a view of St. Clement’s Island, arriving at Riverbrink gives the sense of visiting an old Tidewater estate, but the home is only two years old. The Bonifants hired Mike Mammaugh of Paragon Properties to build this home. The woodwork throughout the first floor is custom milled, the mantel wall in the fireplace room was conceived by combining two ideas, the transom over the pocket door in the front parlor contains hand-blown bull’s-eye glass, the dining room is furnished with family antiques including a Waterford crystal chandelier purchased in Ireland. There is a handmade clay tile mural over the cook top designed by local potter Sarah Houde, showing a faint image of the white cross on St. Clement’s Island.

The second floor maintains a panoramic view of the river and landscape from the galley-style hallway leading to the home office that showcases Lion Stone Whiskey decanters and a Wild West bar scene, on to “the barn room.” From here you return to the first floor by exiting through the “barn door” to the back stairway.

All the holiday decorations are fresh, using as much boxwood, holly and greens from the property as possible.

D. Port of Indecision

Home of Michael and Andrea Alderson

Directions: Turning right back onto Waterloo Road, go half a mile to stop sign then turning right onto Waterloo Circle, going .2 mile to stop sign and turning right onto Colton Point Road, going .8 mile to stop sign, turning right onto Beach Road going .1 mile to left into 38185.

Located in Colton’s Point facing the Potomac River, this home was built in 2006 by Spence-Wood Custom Builders. Situated on family property from Andrea’s maternal side, it was acquired during a game of craps when her Great-Grandfather Hammond won a bet with Mr. Blackistone.

Visitors are greeted in a central hallway flanked by a formal living room with a ceiling enhanced by hand-hewn, pegged, chestnut beams from the Mattingly farm (Andrea’s paternal side) featuring a Christmas tree with collectible ornaments and a formal dining room furnished in family antiques displaying pieces of their Christmas Village. The hall opens into a family room that features vaulted ceilings and a view of the Potomac River and a 10-foot tall Christmas tree.

The basement with its Christmas tree decorated with many of the children’s ornaments (some a Star Trek collection), is furnished with family antiques such as the television shelf that is actually a candy counter from the Tasty Korn Shop owned by Andrea’s great aunt in Baltimore, a wardrobe cabinet owned by Andrea’s grandparents, antique fishing rods and an oyster dredge. The home features many works by county artists.

E. St. Clement’s

Island Museum

Directions: Take a right onto Beach Road to stop sign, turning left and going .1 mile turning right onto Bay View Road going .1 mile left into museum parking lot, 38370. This lot is also the parking for Site F, the Bailey House, 38380, which is in close walking distance.

Located in Colton’s Point on the Potomac River, the St. Clement’s Island Museum, established in 1975, traces the history of the nearby island in the Potomac River, which was the first landfall of the Maryland colonists in 1634.

The St. Clement’s Island Museum is celebrating the holiday season with the 27th Annual Doll and Train Exhibit. Special doll collections from The Black-eyed Susan Doll Club, the Southern Maryland Doll Club and private individuals will be on display. There will also be toy trains, including ones that the public may operate.

Box lunches by Kevin Thompson’s Corner Kafe are available at this site for a fee.

F. Bailey home

Home of Samuel “Bo” and Louanne Bailey

Directions: Leaving the museum turn right, walking past the parking lot on left to 38380.

The home of Bo and Louanne Bailey is nestled on the shore of the Potomac River in Colton’s Point. The property was once owned by Louanne’s grandfather, Robert Lee Nevitt, who purchased it in 1931 and built a cottage enjoyed by the family and Louanne for many summers of her childhood.

In 2006, the cottage was replaced with this contemporary but cozy, two-story home with views of the Potomac River and St. Clement’s Island.

The home features an open and spacious floor plan with a first floor master suite and glassed front porch.

The Baileys’ decor captures their love of county, state and family watermen’s history, with maritime prints by local artists, charming photos and family mementos. Family is the core of the Bailey home, illustrated this time of year with the holiday decorations and touches of the grandchildren who come every Christmas season to decorate and celebrate together.

G. Hyatt home

Home of Larry and Mary Hyatt

Directions: Take a right from parking lot on Bay View Road to stop sign, turning right onto Colton Point Road and go 1.1 miles to a right onto Ed Brown Road going .1 mile to 38060 on left. Watch for parking signs.

St. Patrick’s Creek is the picturesque setting of the home of Larry and Mary Hyatt. Having purchased the 70-year-old property as a second home in 1998, the Hyatts enjoyed it for six years before deciding to make St. Mary’s their permanent home.

In 2004, they chose to raze the original home and rebuild as a waterfront cottage.

There is a striking water view and an open concept plan that gives the home an airy feeling.

The Hyatts are avid collectors of antiques and have combined their treasures with more contemporary furnishings, creating an eclectic and casual lifestyle.

Mary’s passion for the Christmas season can be seen throughout the home, which features 16 themed Christmas trees along with other holiday decorations.