A White House Christmas

2012-12-04 09.05.29

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 Aging & Attitude

My eyes swell with tears, and throat chokes with emotion as I read the letter confirming our Christmas tour date at the White House. Ten days later inside the White House, I am misty the entire visit, and once back home, can barely respond to inquiries of “How was your trip?”

It is not just about the decorations, or First Family’s dog, Bo, a life size replica, made from chicken wire and eighteen thousand one-inch black and white pom-poms .

It is an experience.

At the East Wing entrance, you walk past snowflake wreaths into a foyer of red, white and blue, and instantly feel more than a guest. The tree in this foyer is a tribute to military families. The gold star ornaments pay respect to those who made the ultimate sacrifice. You can write a note of thanks to service men and women. www.JOININGFORCES.GOV.

Visitors are welcome to wander through the nine magnificently decorated rooms and two hallways until you tire of being there, or preparations for a state function start. On this day, a luncheon and afternoon tea are scheduled, so guests will vacate by 11a.m.

We have plenty of time to soak up and absorb the glitter, glitz, and magic.

The theme for Holidays at the White House 2012 is Joy to All and HGTV’s special programhighlights the planning and process of decorating the People’s House. Please click on these links, you will see Bo Obama and the magical decorations. Eighty volunteers spent two to three-days creating joyous splendor throughout the White House. All rooms are decorated but only the State floor is viewed by the general public.

My favorite, a tree in the Book Sellers area, glass bubble ornaments in primary colors; orange, red, purple, blue and green, cascade around the branches. The circular simplicity leave an elegant effect and a lasting impression.

And it gets better.

The East Garden room is a children’s wonderland of gingerbread wreaths and “Boflakes” hung on trees. The Library pays tribute to past Presidents, and First Families. The China Room is set to enjoy a holiday dinner. The Vermeil Room celebrates past First Ladies. The East Room displays American folk art. The Green Room reflects on the joy of a winter garden, The Blue Room honors troops, veterans and military families, The Red Room remembers First Lady Dolly  Madison and her famous Wednesday-evening receptions with cranberry floral arrangements.  The State Dining Room filled with vibrant holiday tones displays the 300-pound gingerbread house.

But it is not just about the decorations.

It is about American pride.

It is about the Princeton Tigertones singing acappela in the North Entrance Hall. An excited 2012-12-04 09.22.48preschooler yelling “I found it” and pointing at a red Bo Obama glass ornament hung low on a tree.

It is about Abraham Lincoln poised above the State Dining room fireplace, his face lined with evidence, that all men are created equal.

2012-12-04 09.07.12You can hear JFK’s poignant request, “Ask not what your country can do for you, but what can you do, for your country.”

It is about meeting three Marines on the Metro, who are returning from Arlington Cemetery and a service for fallen unit members. We have a light discussion about their medals and uniforms. As the doors open, I struggle to say “Be Safe,” before leaving. The soldier’s eyes meet mine and revealed war’s reality but he replies gently, “We try, Maam.”

A White House Christmas tour is not just about the decorations.                                 

                                                                  …just saying