Mommy was way more excited than the children. “We are going to The White House Christmas tour,” I announced. We had finally received the email stating we were cleared to visit The White House. I still have visions as a teenager standing on the sidewalk in the cold, rainy, cherry-blossom-scented air one Spring Break with my family. Finally, one of my parents was too miserable and we left the monstrous line and visited the Lincoln Memorial instead. So here I am forty something with a family of my own and visiting The White House for the first time. And it’s decorated for Christmas!
Yes, I’m one of those people who watches the HGTV White House Christmas Special every year (at least once!) And you bet I watched that special at least once before I toured The White House, because it goes without saying that I also DVR’d it. So you can understand that the night before the White House tour I slept like a baby, which any parent of a newborn will tell you means I was awake more than I was asleep.
But somehow I was still bright eyed and bushy tailed that morning. We quickly got up, got dressed, grabbed a latte and bee-lined it for the White House– to arrive fifteen minutes before our assigned tour time of 8:30am. We stood in line and went through numerous security checks. The security scanner was so highly sensitive that the snap on my jeans and the metal in my bra set it off. Apparently, a woman was not in charge. Even after the security scans we still had to go through two more gates before arriving at The White House east entrance. We were greeted with a smile and handed a White House Holiday Tour Book.
Shine, Give, Share is The White House Holiday theme. Every single room included military themed decor to honor all the men and women who have given so much to our country. And a fun secondary undercurrent is the most famous White House resident, Bo. There are five Bo decorations throughout The White House tour. My daughter was disappointed that she didn’t see the real Bo during her tour, but we assured her Bo was probably keeping the President company.
The East Garden Room was overflowing with colorful, paper trees. The one large tree was decorated with loads of bright colored, jewel toned, handmade felt ornaments. These paper trees are quite easy to make yourself. Just download The White House Tour book and there are instructions on page twelve and immediately following is the half circle template. Adorning the East Room Garden walls were framed Christmas cards from President Obama and former Presidents (President Reagan, both Bushes and Clinton) as well.
The largest and official White House Christmas tree is in the Blue Room. It is eighteen feet tall and hailing from Wisconsin. This enormous Christmas tree is decorated with Holiday cards crafted by military children, military badges, pins, ribbons and patches. It was breathtaking and my favorite as my father served in the Vietnam War. It was very touching. It is a beautiful tribute to all our military families, personnel and veterans. If you would like to assist with these heroes in your community please visit www.JoiningForces.gov.
The famous White House gingerbread house is displayed in the State Dining Room. This year’s gingerbread house is constructed with thick slabs of gingerbread and white chocolate and weighs a whopping 300 pounds. The house also includes Bo and the kitchen garden both sculpted from marzipan (my favorite candy!). All of the gingerbread house is edible except one miniature working chandelier. I imagine it would be very delicious! Not to be overshadowed there are two large Christmas trees flanking the fireplace mantel. Imagine all the conversations the mantel bison sculptures have eavesdropped on since installed there under the office of President Theodore Roosevelt.
As you leave the grand State Dining room you enter the Cross Halls. The Cross Hall Christmas tree is decorated with more Shine, Give, Share embossed ribbons, crystal snowflakes and silver ornaments. As we exit the Cross Hall and turn into the entrance hall we were greeted by a choir singing familiar Christmas carols.
Groups of people gathered to listen to the choir. Although, the fact that this is the end of the tour probably has a lot to do with the lingering. As I know it was in my case, I just didn’t want all the pageantry to end. It had been a rare forty five minutes of peaceful holiday activities where no one was cranky, whining or had to be cajoled into attending . We will be adding The White House Christmas tour to our annual traditions. I was so overwhelmed by joy I was teary eyed throughout the whole tour. The look on my children’s’ faces says it all….
Hope you had a wonderful season!
This post was written by Christine Navin. Contact Christine at firstname.lastname@example.org
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