My Second Christmas At The White House

First Lady Melania Trump unveils Christmas at the White House 2018.


 

The East Colonnade of the White House is decorated for the holiday season Monday, Nov. 26, 2018. (Official White House Photo by Andrea Hanks)

Every year, the Office of the First Lady invites writers and reporters to preview Christmas decorations in the White House. On Monday morning, November 26th, I was slated for 11: 20 AM to walk through the White House before the First Family begins their hosting of more than 100 open houses and receptions, including the annual one for the members of the press.

As heavy rain was falling on the nation’s capital, I stepped out with an umbrella in front of the Palm Room entrance to wait with the rest of the press corps for Annie from the First Lady’s Office. The Secret Service was unusually pleasant, an influence of the holiday spirit after Thanksgiving, I guess.

As I walked into the White House hallway, I felt the fresh sprucey scent of the Christmas trees. This year's theme “American Treasures” promised to uphold and celebrate the American heritage.

As I approached the Gold Star Family tree decorated by Gold Star families, I noticed the minimalist decoration style. Next to the tree, a digital tablet was placed for guests and visitors to write messages of support and joy to service members who are on duty or deployed.

As I walked through the line up of more than 40 red berry colored topiary trees in the East Colonnade, I noticed that I actually quite liked Melania’s departure from the traditional green Christmas trees.

The next new room with portraits of presidents, commonly known as “Booksellers” opened up in front of me showcasing the holiday cards written by former first families.

The Library

The White House library is one of my favorite rooms. I could easily picture the First Families through history gathering here to read American classics wrapped in a cashmere blanket sipping hot chocolate with marshmallows. It is in this room that I could really feel the stillness of America.

Tucked away discreetly in corners, four Christmas trees displayed the White House Historical Association’s 2018 ornament honoring President Harry S.Truman.  

The Vermeil room

Across the library, I found myself in the Vermeil room with portraits of Jackie Kennedy, a “gilded silver” collection composed of more than 1,585 pieces and two trees sparkling in blue and gold.

The State Dining Room

As I entered the State dining room, surrounded by China of the former presidents of America, I could not help but not notice an elegant golden blue plate of the Monroe family. Inside, three completely set tables, all replicas from previous state dinners using pieces from the White House permanent collection: the first one from President Roosevelt’s hosting of the Prince of Prussia in 1901, second one of Kennedy hosting president of Pakistan in 1961 and the third one replicating President Trump hosting President of France in 2018.

The Grand Foyer and Cross Hall

Crossing into the Grand Foyer and Cross Hall, with the military band playing Christmas songs one could easily feel as if they were walking into a Hallmark postcard. 14,000 red ornaments hanging from 29 trees take center stage to symbolize American patriotism.

As the First Lady’s Office explains, the shades of reds symbolize valor and bravery and are found in the presidential seal designed by our Founding Fathers.  

“This is a joyous time of year when we decorate the White House for the Christmas Season,” said First Lady Melania Trump. “Our theme honors the heart and spirit of the American people.”  

The Christmas decorations proved a stark contrast to last year’s much more minimalist decor, which had been criticized by many for being too barren and bleak to be representative of the otherwise joyous holiday season. This year’s decorations have not evaded criticism either, with some calling the red trees of the Cross Hall ‘blood trees’, despite Melania’s insistence that the color scheme was picked for patriotic purposes.



 

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