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Home for the Holidays

Sterling Resident Keeps Holiday Spirit Alive

It takes Rhoda Matts one month to decorate her house for the holidays. And she prepares for the holiday season all year long.

"I’ve always loved Christmas," Matts said. "Ever since I was a little girl."

The Sterling resident begins making trips to the storage unit she rents for her holiday decorations in November. She makes several trips a day until every room in her three-story house is filled with snow globes, themed Christmas trees, garland and wreaths.

By the first week in December, the Matts home is transformed into a winter wonderland. Every room, including her bathrooms and basement, gets decorated from top to bottom.

Her 18-year-old daughter, Katie, still looks forward to the holiday season. She said she appreciates all of the effort her mother puts into the holiday.

"I don’t know the holiday any other way," she said. "I couldn’t imagine it any other way."

MATTS CREATED her first handmade Christmas tree when she was 3 years old.

"I think I made it out of rags," she said.

The 60-year-old mother of two children and three collies said she always loved creating things with her hands, especially for the holidays.

"My first word was pretty," she said.

Since she moved into her Sterling home, Matts has made 40 Christmas trees, including a beach tree, decorated with sea shells and shovels, a Star Trek-themed tree, a teddy bear tree and a collie tree in honor of her dogs. She has made trees for her son and daughter, too.

Matts has also made an additional 40 smaller trees and handmade ornaments to go on them.

FOR 30 YEARS, she has invited the community into her house to view the display.

"Everything is handmade," she said, "and I’m always adding new things every year."

When Matts gets a new idea, she immediately gets to work. She said she is inspired by craft magazines and holiday decoration stores.

"I’d rather make it then spend money on it," she said. "I’ve always been a creative person. I love to work with my hands."

The majority of her supplies comes from household items, like box tops, pull tabs and tin cans.

Three years ago, Matts began constructing a nativity scene. She recently finished the elaborate display that wraps around the back wall of her basement.

She constructed miniature houses, fruit carts and olive presses out of cat food cans, wood and clay. She created roofs out of McDonald’s straws.

"I’m inspired by just about everything," she said.

MATTS WILL open her doors to the community Saturday, Dec. 9 and Sunday, Dec. 10. Neighbors are welcome to view Matts' home throughout both days.

This year, Matts agreed to team up with Potomac Falls High School marketing teacher Kathy Chrisman and her students to raise money for the ALS Association’s Washington, D.C., Maryland and Virginia chapter and will accept donations at her open house.

The ALS Association is a nonprofit organization that provides support and services to patients who have the disease, which attacks the nervous system, and their families.

Matts said anyone is welcome in her home during the months of December and January so long as they call first. To set up an appointment, call 703-450-6291.

"This is my gift to everybody," Matts said.