Take the ‘Observer’ Potomac holiday house tour

By Michael Fox and Thomas Atkinson

The holiday season is here and what better way to express love for this festive time than to decorate your house? The Observer toured Potomac to find houses that are bursting with holiday spirit and interviewed members of each house.

We will begin our tour from our very own CHS. Take a right onto Tuckerman Lane and head straight until you reach Falls Road, where you turn left and then right onto Winterset Drive. As you follow this road to the end you will be amazed at the glorious display of blow-ups and lights. This is the Ely house, home of senior Danny Ely.

Why do you like to be festive during the holidays?

“It’s fun, and I like people to enjoy it. A lot of the little kids like it,” Danny’s father said.

When did you first have an interest in putting up decorations?

“When my oldest son was young, we decided to go get some blow-ups from Wal-Mart and that started it.”

What’s your favorite decoration to put up?

“Probably the blow-ups, they’re so big and everyone notices them.”

What is your favorite memory from Christmas?

“Probably waking up Christmas morning and seeing the presents Santa Claus brought.”

Next on our tour, we get back on Falls Road and go towards the Potomac Village and make a left onto Oaklyn Drive. Following this road for a few minutes, we will then make a right onto Potomac Station Lane; this is the Huntington household, home of sophomore Genevieve Huntington.

Why do you like to be festive during the holidays?

The holidays just make me really happy, and they give me a chance to bond with my family,” Genevieve said.

What is your favorite decoration to put up?

“My favorite decoration is the tree topper we put on a big gold bow that lights up.”

What is your favorite Christmas memory?

“When I was younger, my sister and I would race to the advent calendar every day to put the velcro ornaments on a tree.”

As we look for our third house, we will go onto Falls Road down and make a left onto Oakland Drive, just past the Village. We will go a couple blocks down and turn left onto Avenel Farm Drive, approaching the Gramm household.

Donna Gramm, mother/owner:

Why do you like to be festive during the holidays?

“It’s a lot of fun. The kids enjoy it, and my whole family loves the experience. It makes it a special time of the year,” owner Donna Gramm said.

When did you first have an interest in decorating your house?

“When I first married my husband 15 years ago. He is Catholic and I am Jewish, so we decided that we would compromise. We have lights outside during both Hannukah and Christmas, which doesn’t necessarily mean anything. They are white and blue lights to make the house look pretty, and we have Jewish stars, a Hannukah bush and a Hannukah tree ( just a green pine tree decorated with blue and white ornaments) and we also put gifts under the tree for Hannukah. Once Hannukah is over, we keep the bush up through Christmas, and we decorate more with the Christmas ornamentation in order to celebrate for my husband.”

Do you try to do this every year?

“We do this every year because it’s a tradition. My daughters and my oldest daughter have been doing this since about 17 years ago when we met Jimmy, my husband.”

As a child, did you have lots of decorations at your house?

“As a child, we played games for Hannukah. We celebrated each night by lighting the Menorah, and with a small gift. We didn’t do too many decorations because, unfortunately, there weren’t a lot of Hannukah decorations available in the stores, which makes it all the more fun now.”

What’s your favorite decoration to put up each year and why?

“The outdoor lights. When we pull up to our house, it looks so beautiful and special. It makes everybody happy to realize that the holidays are almost here.”

What’s your favorite Hannukah or Christmas memory?

“For Hannukah, I think it’s lighting the menorah and playing with the dreidel. For Christmas, it’s waking up Christmas day morning and having a big family breakfast together. I usually make the same thing each year so it stays special. Then I love watching the kids open up their presents. It’s really mostly about tradition.”

We conclude our journey with a very short travel just a few houses down. If you continue on Avenel Farm Drive, you will see the decorative house of Hamid Fallahi.

Hamid Fallahi, father/owner:

Why do you like to be festive during the holidays?

“It’s a season to celebrate no matter what nation you are from, or what religion you are. We are all equal, and we want to celebrate our families and our friends so we want to invite them over. The lights outside are to show the celebration of the season and how it’s great to be celebrating this time of the year.”

When did you first have an interest in decorating your house?

“All of my life. We’ve been doing it for years.”

How did you decorate your house this year?

“We do it outside just like we normally do. We put lights on the house, on the trees, on the bushes and we also do it all over the inside of the house. We have garlands, wreaths and christmas trees. We have three Christmas trees this year. It’s beautiful with all of the christmas decorations bringing the holiday spirit up.”

Do you try to do this every year?

“Yes, every year because we just love it.”

“What’s your favorite decoration to put up each year and why?

“Definitely the Christmas tree because it’s the prettiest piece and the most meaningful.”

As a child did you have lots of decorations?

“Some yes, but as a grew up I added more and more to make it even better.”

What were some additions that you made this year?

“We added more bushes. We changed the lights on the trees outside. We changed them from white to red. It added something different.”

What’s your favorite christmas memory?

“Just being around the kids, opening presents and every year repeating the tradition.”