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Wednesday, November 30, 2011

White House Holiday Tour 2011: Shine, Give, Share

First Lady Michelle Obama invited military families and their children to the White House today to marvel at the White House Christmas decorations, while their children engaged in ornament making in the State Dining room with the First Lady.

Photo by Olivier Douliery/Abaca Press/MCT.
Four year old Gerald Hogan, Jr. was the star of the day, all smiles with his ornament of White House dog, Bo.   Gerald tied a green ribbon on his ornament and lifted it up for photographers to see. 

When asked if he was going to put the ornament of Bo on his tree at home, he replied, “We don’t have a tree.” 


Cute four year-old talks about  his White House Christmas ornament.

It may be a bit early yet for the Hogan family Christmas tree, but the White House was decked with boughs of holly, Christmas trees, and more.  Thirty-seven Christmas trees to be exact, to include 30 natural trees, seven made from paper, felt or aluminum.


“It just draws me [in] when you walk in and smell [them], the smell is breathtaking”, said Diana Jackman, who was visiting with a Gold Star military family.
“This is just awesome.”


First Lady with children and the White House gingerbread house.

The 18 foot balsam fir, delivered to the White House last week courtesy of Schroder’s Forevergreens, sits in the East Landing as a tribute to Gold Star military families.  Many military families served as volunteers, helping to decorate it.  The tree is decorated with notes of thanks written to service men and women.  Buttons from soldier uniforms adorned the tree’s blue skirt.
Jennifer Jackman, a Gold Star mother from Kansas, along with another Gold Star mom and a military wife were asked by the First Lady to be volunteers.  

Jackman got the distinct honor of introducing the First Lady who thanked the military families for their service to the country.

Said the First Lady, “And it’s also why we’re using the holiday season here at the White House to highlight our troops and our veterans, and all of their families through this year’s theme, which is “Share, Give, Shine.”
Mrs. Obama also took the moment to talk about why she, along with second lady, Dr. Jill Biden, started their Joining Forces tribute to military families initiative. 

“We don’t all understand what it’s like to be in a military family.  And that’s one of the reasons why Jill and I started our Joining Forces initiative, because we wanted to rally all Americans to honor, recognize, and support our military families.  We wanted to make sure that never again would someone have to ask the question, what is a Gold Star family, and what does that sacrifice mean.  We all should know”, she said. 
White House dog, Bo, not to be outdone by Christmas trees and all the shimmering ornaments, can be seen just as often throughout the White House rooms.  There are five Bo Topiaries made from various materials, in the likeness of the famous Portuguese water dog, to include 35 yards of wool felt, 750 pom poms, 12 marshmallows and 1,911 pieces of licorice.  No material was spared while making replicas of the famous first dog; trash bags were also used (6,850 feet worth).

“So, trust me, our dog has been a little confused walking around the house for the last couple of weeks, seeing himself in gigantic form”, said First Lady Obama. 
A gingerbread replica of the White House graced a table inside the State Dining room.  The gingerbread masterpiece, created with the help of volunteers who began in October of this year, made the work of art with 400 pounds of white chocolate and marzipan.  The House is surrounded with short and tall trees also made with marzipan and with macaroons. The tall trees are made out of almond macaroons, while the shorter trees are made with almond paste shaped into fruit. 

Holiday decorations, in any home, wouldn’t be complete without a Nativity scene.  The White House Nativity scene is a brilliantly shimmering display of color and arrangement displayed in the center wall of the East Room.  It is a late 18th-century Italian presepio (crèche), made in Naples, and has been on exhibit in the East Room of the White House during the holiday season since 1967.   It boasts angels hovering above the manger with Baby Jesus, Mary and Joseph. 
“It’s absolutely gorgeous”, exclaimed Diana Jackman.  “Absolutely beautiful.” 

To learn more about the holiday decorations, touring schedule throughout the month of December, and even holiday recipe ideas, visit www.WhiteHouse.gov/2011HolidayTour.
Photos at Denver Post.  Watch the video here.

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