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Christmas at the Gross home ... pure delight!

Story and Photography By Vicki Hunkler

Whose home is "over-the-top" when it comes to decorating for Christmas? It's a question Posh writers ask around town every holiday season.

Roxie Jarvis, a Paducah Realtor who has seen hundreds of homes in her business, enthusiastically said, "It's Jean and Bob Gross' home without a doubt!"

(Located on Wallace Lane, the house was the former residence of Rev. John and Pat Wood and several other First Baptist Church ministers' families. Bob and Jean purchased it in 2007.)

It only takes a minute upon entering the front door to know Roxie is correct. All "Scrooges" beware ... the atmosphere is electric, colorful and contagious. If you aren't in the spirit of Christmas when you arrive, you certainly will be when you leave!

The foyer seems to have been "floored" just for Christmas. The black and white tile laid on the diagonal works great with bright yellow walls, a red painted chest, and the festive red, green, and gold of Christmas.

Jean served as the interim choir director at First Baptist at one time and is firm in her belief that the true meaning of Christmas should be incorporated with other decorations. In the foyer, for example, a Nativity scene on red satin fabric is placed beneath a gold mirror. A colorful ceramic plate with the inscription "Every time I think of you I give thanks to my God" (Philippians 1:3) painted on it was a gift from the choir. It anchors a special place in the family room.

Every nook and cranny in the house is laden with decorations. The formal living room with its red walls makes such an impact as guests enter. The mantel and woodwork are painted a crisp glossy white; the twin sofas are covered in white brocade. And then there is red and more red: from the metallic bows and sparkling bells draped across the mantel to the glowing candles, large area rug, and fringe trimmed pillows! A white flocked tree with lime green and red ornaments and ribbons stands near the window.

Jean uses most of the same decorations every year, but usually adds to the collections and only occasionally disposes of something.

"There's nothing like an old fashioned Christmas, but updated Christmas is good, too," she said. "I visited North Pole City in Oklahoma City with my daughter, Paige; it has the largest display of Christmas decorations I think I've ever seen and I bought lanterns and bells. I knew what I was going to do with them when I bought them. I love Hobby Lobby and Trees 'n Trends, too." The oversized bells are part of the living room décor.

Across the foyer is a guest bedroom. Decorated to the hilt, the room begs the question of could anyone ever really close their eyes when surrounded with so many beautiful decorative items, both permanent and holiday? A large white flocked tree in front of the window is full of bows, balls, and berries - in red, of course.

The dining room is elegant and the table is "over the top."

"I set this table for various seasons, but people usually go to the back living area to actually eat," she laughed. Cuthbertson embossed Christmas china with red chargers and holiday glassware; fancy over-sized napkins rings are fun and festive. Jean isn't afraid to use larger-than-life items - like the spectacular centerpiece on this table for six. Its beaded branches reach the chandelier. Miniature white lights on garlands of greenery frame a mirror above the server where yet more holiday china and stem ware are carefully organized for guests.

A keeping room off the kitchen represents another style of decorating for Christmas. This cozy room has a green tree with hand-made collectible ornaments.

"All 120 ornaments on this tree were made entirely by my mother. She (Marie Morris) was always responsible for the Christmas tree in a store in downtown Cadiz for many years. One year when it was quilted ornaments, she gave us these," Jean said. Their grandmother made Bobby Joe and Paige ornaments with their names embroidered on them. Her name is on the back of many of them.

A red and green sampler quilt on an old rocking chair adds charm to the space as do playful fringed plaid lamp shades and several colorful small horses from the "Trail of Painted Ponies" collection. Jean bought them in New Mexico. The quilt was also made by Jean's mother.

Santa would be happy to drop into this kitchen with two tall nutcrackers guarding his plate of cookies! Over-sized spheres in red, blue, gold, and green dangle where pots and pans usually hang. White cabinets and a red counter top are the perfect back-drop for the candy-striped cloth on the center island. A "Be Merry with Jean and Bob" tray welcomes guests.

"Next come the stockings of Rachel, Reece, Jace, Elizabeth Anne, Kurt, and Gracie" (the Gross' grandchildren) in the spacious family room at the back of the house. The tin stockings are inscribed and hang above the fireplace.

Decorating one of shelves is an interesting gum drop tree.

"When I was a little girl we had those small ceramic lighted Christmas trees and we also had one of these - this brings back memories," Jean said. The gum drops are real and tempting.

The room is really large with plenty of room for a dining table and eight chairs, built-in bookshelves galore, comfortable red leather chairs, a sofa, and two round accent tables draped in black and white checked fabric and guests galore.

Jean says the room used to be dark brown with no windows and John Wood's taxidermy collection was on display. Today its sunlit bright yellow walls and red accents are quite a contrast to the "man cave" of yesteryear.

A third tree laden with ornaments for children and the young at heart is in keeping with Christmas items placed on the raised brick hearth. Hefty snowmen, little teddy bears, nutcrackers, ice skates, and faux gift packages create a wonderland. "The tree's bows were actually pew markers from Paige's wedding on Dec. 19, 1998. I bring out her wedding invitations, program, and pictures each year.

"When we're all here, I have super large card tables that fit in this room and we can seat and feed many people," Jean noted. Adults and children don't object to sitting on the hearth to eat.

"The house is open to anyone and anyone who needs a place to have a party or get together," according to the gracious hostess. "I decorate this house all year-round for us because I love to. Even if no one came here this Christmas, we would still enjoy looking at it decorated," Jean added.

Roxie was absolutely correct! The beautifully decorated home of Jean and Bob Gross is over-the-top in every way. What a happy, colorful place to feel the spirit of Christmas!

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