Michelle Obama kicked off the holiday season with an unveiling of the White House decorations.
By Laura Wainman
54 Christmas trees, a 300-pound gingerbread house, 90,000 anticipated guests and a life-size replica of a dog made out of 20,000 pom-poms can only mean one thing: the White House has officially been decorated for the holidays. To kick off the holiday season, First Lady Michelle Obama welcomed military families and members of the media into her home to see the festive decor bedecking the halls of the President’s home. It took more than 80 volunteers from across the country to get the house ready for the holidays, with some projects lasting months, such as the east entrance column covers that used 15,000 gold pine cone scales, 15,000 pieces of lemon leaf and 60,000 berries.
Each year, a theme is chosen to weave together the decor, and this year’s theme is Joy to All. As Mrs. Obama explained, the theme “celebrates the many joys of the holiday seasons: the joy of giving and service to others; the joy of sharing our blessings with one another; and, of course, the joy of welcoming our friends and families as guests into our homes over these next several weeks.”
The Obamas also used the opportunity to honor our troops, including Gold Star (soldiers lost in battle) and Blue Star (soldiers who have served or are serving) families.
“This is one big, huge thank you,” said Mrs. Obama.
Patriotic decorations were abundant in the house from the red, white and blue yarn wreaths in the East Landing to the tree with Gold Star ornaments with the names of those who have been lost in battle, and the 18-foot-6-inch Fraser Fir official White House Christmas tree in the Blue Room, adorned with ornaments decorated by children living on U.S. military bases all over the world.
Nods to former administrations are sprinkled throughout the house, such as the four trees in the Grand Foyer honoring the current and former First Ladies dating back to Mrs. Kennedy, who first started the tradition of selecting a holiday theme, with labeled ornaments from their personal collections. 6,000 re-purposed White House ornaments were also used to make archway decorations in the Cross Hall.
After her welcoming speech in the East Room, Mrs. Obama moved into the state dining room to share her cookie and lolipop decorating secrets with the children. White House chefs Cris Comerford and Bill Yosses and White House florist Laura Dowling were on hand to advise. The kids seemed far more into their treats than the First Lady- until she brought in Bo and was immediately swarmed. The mild-mannered Portuguese Water Dog indulged the children’s pats and pets for approximately 15 minutes, before the First Lady announced their departure.
“Bye Bo. I’ll see you next year,” said one pint-sized visitor, obviously feeling confident in his return to the White House.