The Rushes' Patriotic Room has only one green item in it -- the Christmas tree. - Bob Pennell

Tour offers a portal into land of yule

Even if their home weren't a main stop on the Soroptimist Holiday Home Tour, Barbara and Doug Rush would still put up Christmas trees in almost every room, each richly decorated to the tippy-top with its own theme.

Their columned Colonial house, sitting at the end of Medford's Greystone Court — often called the "Street of Lights" for its lavish display of outdoor holiday lighting — is on the 16th annual tour on Sunday.

Everywhere you look inside the Rush home, it's Christmas. That's the idea of the tour — to boost spirits, induce hugs and cheers, and provide an avenue into the child-land of Yule, says Barbara Rush.

Her personal favorite is her "angel tree," a gauzy gold-on-white display in the master bedroom which is visible from the street. The tree has white needles, and just about every angel, butterfly, ribbon and present is done up in gold.

"She likes angels. A lot," says Doug Rush, who confesses, after a career having to decorate for the big sales season as a department store executive, "now it's fun."

It takes the Rushes about a month to decorate their house, and they do it all themselves (except for climbing high on ladders).

The upstairs hallway presents you with an all-Santa tree, every imaginable image of the gentleman of gainly girth in a riot of red on green.

In an original turn that's become a tradition for the Rush couple and their large extended family, there's a Patriotic Room, where everything is red, white and blue — including banners, pillows, hats, drums — except for the tree (which is green, when you can find it through all the bunting and USA memorabilia).

"Friends call this the White House West, because of the big white columns in front — and this room," says Doug Rush, noting they created the room before 9/11.

At the far end of the house is the "guy room," also known as the game room, fitted with Santa-bedecked bar, pool table, big screen TV and, of course, a guy tree decorated with outdoorsy stuff, like bears, birds, football and lots of fishing-related ornaments.

In the rear family room is the Music Tree, in honor of Barbara Rush's singing career, decorated with ornaments that speak of anything musical, including stained-glass notes, doves, angels, even Elvis. She sings with the Sweet Adelines and entertains at assisted-living centers.

In the living room is the decorated mantel, arch, staircase and traditional Christmas tree, looking much like you'd find in any American living room — fitting in, providing the right aura and making the house a place of Yuletide peace.

"When you walk in here, you can't help but feel like a kid," says Barbara Rush, adding that her grown children often spot decorations they made as children.

Out front are a plethora of lights draped about columns, trees, sleighs, angels and reindeer.

The cul-de-sac of Greystone Court, heavily traveled by Yuletide-light-display seekers, has for years set up a collection point for a food drive (toys and clothes are also welcome), with edibles going to ACCESS and other charities.

The popular tour, which costs $15, attracts between 600 and 700 people, says Barbara Rush A lot of the draw, she says, is to see how other people live, to get in the holiday spirit, to go in houses you always wanted to go in, and to help those in need.

The all-volunteer tour makes about $15,000 for programs including Dunn House, a shelter for women and children; breast cancer awareness and prosthetics; the Start Making a Reader Today (SMART) literacy program; and the Community Health Center, says organizer Claudette Moore.

John Darling is a freelance writer living in Ashland. E-mail him at

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