02 January 2013

HAPPY HAPPY

 

Wishing everyone a very happy and healthy New Years!!!  I hope everyone had a wonderful and rested holiday.  I know we did!!! 

 

I realize everybody is probably overdosed on Christmas right now, and I wish this first post of 2013 was about something else, but I started writing this over a week ago and well….I hate to just toss it away because of the date.  I found some beautiful pictures of this year’s White House Christmas decorations and while doing the research, it hit me that something seems off with our national decorations.   While the White House Christmas is surely beautiful, where are the Nutcrackers and Santa, the candy canes and peppermints, the snow and icicles, the toys and the North Pole?   The Obamas’ Christmas themes and decorations seem so bland and homogenized, so politically correct, it’s as if all the religion and joy of the holiday has been removed!!!   I hope I don’t sound like Bill O’Reilly, but isn’t Christmas for the children too?  I understand that the sanctity of the holiday doesn’t apply to all Americans, but can’t we as a nation keep its symbols intact?   Is Santa Claus a religious figure?  Are nutcrackers or candy canes?  Or reindeer and snow?   Can’t we have a real Christmas in the White House – after all we have a real Hanukah there!

I don’t want to start a huge political war, I never really thought about it until I saw the decorations.  It hasn’t been that long since the fun of the season was removed from the White House.  It’s only been the past four years!!!  First Lady Laura Bush hosted the most gorgeous, snowy and wintry Christmas decorations – complete with candy canes and nutcrackers and no one complained.   I wish we could go back to that. 

Look at the decorations and see if you agree.   I’ll show this year and compare them to George and Laura Bush’s years.   Choose if you like the more adult themed Christmas of these past years, or the more wintry wonderland of the past!!

Either one, the decorations are something to see and experience.  I would love to go one day in person.  Until then, these pictures are all I have.

Enjoy!!!

 

 

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The White House season starts with a Christmas card.  This year, the card was painted by artist Larassa Kabel from a White House-provided photograph.   Kabel won the competition – the scarf was a detail she added. 

 

 

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If you are truly lucky, you receive this!  An invitation to a Christmas party at the White House.  About 14,000 people attended the 24 White House dinners and receptions, and approximately 77,000 visitors toured the mansion in December.

 

Next comes the arrival of the tree.  While maybe this event once really meant something when there was only one tree in the White House, today – there are 54 trees!!!  Still, each year, there is a large press photocall when the 18 ft. tree, which goes in the oval Blue Room, is delivered by a horse drawn buggy.  Bo always attends.

 

So, you are lucky enough to come to the White House for a party.  You drive through the front gates….

 

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And have your chauffeur drop you off at the front door of the North Portico.  Well – that’s the fantasy.   By the way, isn’t it about time we got a nicer front door?????

 

Actually, you enter at the East Wing wall through the East Garden Corridor to the Visitors Foyer on the Ground Floor, where you then visit the Library before you take the grand stairs to the main First Floor.  Maps courtesy of America blog HERE.

 

When Jacqueline Kennedy became First Lady, she instituted a “theme” for the Christmas decorations – her first was the Nutcracker ballet.  Each year since, First Ladies have had the White House decorated around a seasonal theme.  This year that theme is “Joy To All.”     People from around the country volunteer to decorate the large White House – a feat that happens rather quickly, despite the huge undertaking. 

 

 

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The first stop on the tour is the Library where holiday cards from past presidents are on display.  There are over 2,700 books in the library today – but before a 1935 renovation, this room was a laundry and a men’s washroom.

 

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The library is one of my favorite rooms because of the red and cream striped curtains and the red painted chandelier.  They are such a surprise!    

 

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Another pretty aspect of the room is that the shelves are painted red.  Still, these Christmas decorations aren’t much – I wish they would use a red and cream theme in this room to highlight the décor.   And wouldn’t it look better if a smaller tree was placed on the center table with wrapped presents underneath instead of one stuck in the corner?  

 

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Google has a rather cool app – a tour of the White House and a catalogue of all its art and furniture.   Here is what the library usually looks like without the decorations.  Not much of a change, really. 

 

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The red painted chandelier dates from 1800.  I love this one!!!

 

 

After the Library, you take the stairs up to the main floor where you reach the North Portico Entrance Hall.  You walk down the Cross Hall to the State Dining Room, through to the enfilade of the Red Room, the oval Blue Room, the Green Room, and finally the East Room. 

 

The North Portico has two large Christmas trees flanking the doorway.   The checker board pink and white marble floor is so beautiful and always seems to be another surprise décor element.    And here is where the current White House design starts – with red and gold curtains.  This bright shade of gold is found in every room.   Not sure who installed these curtains – but maybe it’s time for a total redecorating?  It scares me though – remember the Clinton’s redecorating?  Terrible!   Who would the Obama’s hire?  Michael Smith?   Who would be someone who could tackle the White House and make it more elegant and sophisticated without all the garish colors?   Any ideas?  My mind keeps going to Charlotte Moss.  She has such a great knowledge of antiques and she has a good historical perspective.   Who would be your first choice to redecorate?

 

 

Remember this?  This famous dance between Princess Diana and John Travolta took place in the North Portico Entrance Hall.   I love how President Reagan, though dancing, is looking back at his wife who is talking to Prince Charles!  So sweet!!!    Reagan was so devoted to his First Lady Nancy – I particularly admire that in a president.  

 

 

 

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The Cross Hall connects to the Entrance Hall and the Grand Staircase.  Directly centered on the front door – across the hall - is the oval Blue Room.  For this year’s decorations, there are four Christmas trees in this main area – each represents the various First Ladies of the past 50 years who have followed Mrs. Kennedy and decorated with a theme.  The ornaments on these four trees showcase their various decorative schemes.   At the end of the Cross Hall is the East Room (seen here) and at the opposite end is the State Dining Room where the tour continues. 

 

 

 

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A close up of one of the 1775 chandeliers in the Cross Hall.   So pretty!!

 

 

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The view from the front door – directly into the oval Blue Room, flanked by two trees and garland.  This tree – the 18’ tall fir – is the main tree that is delivered by carriage.

 

 

 

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Here is how the Entrance Hall usually looks without the Christmas decorations.  In the middle is the Blue Room with the Green Room at the left and the Red Room at the right.  The East Room is next to the Green Room and the State Dining Room is next to the Red Room.  Now that’s what I call a RED CARPET!!!   The chandelier is so gorgeous in this room.   What do you think of the red and gold carpet and all the red and gold fabric?  This rug design seems to have been used as far back as the Carters.   And, it appears a red rug was placed down by the Trumans in the 40s.   Does it go with the pink and white marble floor?  Who chose this?   Could someone else do better?  Or is this the best choice, bright red?

 

 

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In 1882, Louis Tiffany installed this screen in the front entrance to keep out drafts.  He also redecorated the main rooms, adding his distinctive touch to the walls and ceilings and floors.   This Tiffany décor didn’t last long.  In 1902 Theodore Roosevelt hired architects McKim, Mead, & White to dismantle all the Victorian design elements and to restore an 18th century classical design to the White House. 

 

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Without the Christmas decorations, the Halls are a study in red and gold.   The Steinway grand piano was gifted in 1938.

 

 

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A closer look at the marble baseboards and the iron stair rail.

 

 

 

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Before the grand stairway was completely refigured, it used to open up here in the Cross Hall.  Now, there is just a landing.   And, there was another grand staircase at the other end of the hall which was removed in 1902 to make the State Dining Room larger. 

 

President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama descend the Grand Staircase to greet guests at a holiday reception in the Grand Foyer of the White House, Dec. 15, 2011. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)<br /><br />This official White House photograph is being made available only for publication by news organizations and/or for personal use printing by the subject(s) of the photograph. The photograph may not be manipulated in any way and may not be used in commercial or political materials, advertisements, emails, products, promotions that in any way suggests approval or endorsement of the President, the First Family, or the White House. 

 A rare view of the staircase looking out towards the Cross Hall.  2011

 

 

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The Cross Hall measures 18 x 80.  The two Adam-style cut-glass chandeliers were made in London in 1775.   It truly is an elegant hall, especially when compared to how it was back at the turn of the century:

 

 

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With the Tiffany Screen on the left and the large gas lights, the hall doesn’t look nearly as elegant!  It looks so cluttered with all the potted palms. 

 

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One element I wish they would have kept is the beautiful transom above the doors to the East Room!

 

 

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Next on the tour is the State Dining Room, another personal favorite.  I love the rug and the curtains in here and the fireplace and moldings.  So pretty!!  This is one room where the bright garish colors are missing.   Here two trees flank the fireplace under Abe’s portrait.   While the trees are pretty, it’s hard to figure out a theme and they just seem so jammed packed with ornaments – as if there was no real design to them.   Same with the fireplace decorations.  This vignette could be so stunning – it seems like a missed opportunity. 

 

 

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You can really see the beautiful rug here.  This is the room where the children are invited – usually their parents are in the Armed Forces.  Bo always attends.  In fact, Bo has now taken the place of Santa Claus!

 

 

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And this is where the gingerbread house is.  This year the house was constructed in a different way than it’s been done the past years – more on that later!  Gorgeous mirror and candlesticks.   To the left of the house is a replica of Mrs. O’s vegetable garden.

 

 

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Closeup of the house and the mirror – so beautiful!

 

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The First Lady’s vegetable garden – too cute!!

 

Here is how the food is set up for a Christmas party – the tablecloth is gold damask. 

 

And here is a concept board used by the volunteers to show how it is to be decorated.  This board for the State Dining Room shows pinecones, hydrangeas, and ornaments. 

 

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Closeup of the curtains.  In this window is the work of Chicago artist David Lee Csicsko who designed these ornaments and the flower boxes.  His work is found in other rooms and even outside the White House.

 

 

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Here you can see the side tables set up for eating with gold damask cloths.  And here are more of the whimsical decorations by Csicsko.  These are the few decorations that are somewhat geared towards children, but they seem more like Easter colors.

 

 

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Look how pretty this room looked under the Bushes!  All soft pinks and green.  Elegant.

 

 

 

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Here’s how the State Dining Room looks without the decorations.  The moldings in this room are beautiful. 

 

 

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And looking the other direction.  This room was decorated under the Clintons and was one room they did that was soft and pretty with the needlepoint rug and curtains.  In real life, the walls are more white than this cream.   Still, the room is so much more prettier than the other rooms and it appeals more to me than the bright golds and reds. 

 

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And looking the other direction.    This console is where the Gingerbread house is displayed.   The Family Dining Room is through the right door and the pantry is through the left door.   The doors and moldings are just so beautiful.  This room could definitely need an updating!

 

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Looking at the enfilade from the State Dining Room to the Red Room to the Blue Oval Room to the Green Room all the way through to the East Room – so European!!!!!

 

 

 

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The Red Room is next on the tour.  This room used to be bright yellow until 1845 when it became this shade of red and was renamed The Red Room.  Typically it is decorated with cranberries for Christmas.   Pops of yellows are used also.  Why oh why is that electrical cord not changed out to a more invisible one?   Something should be done about the all the cords around the White House – do they have to be dark brown????

 

 

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This room is in need of a updating – something more sophisticated and elegant.  Don’t you think?  And bring that painting down to eye level!   I don’t understand all the bright gold everywhere.  This room has basically looked liked this since at least back to the Reagans with exception of the curtains and the settee fabric which were updated in the 90s.

 

 

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The simpler times of Jackie Kennedy – without a lot of the bright gold.    Just, curtains without a lot of fuss.  Love the mirror between the windows.  Is the bright gold really necessary?

 

 

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Next on the tour is the oval Blue Room.   The double wood doors open onto the Cross Hall and face the front doors of the North Portico.

 

 

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The tree is 18 1/2 ft. tall. 

 

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This year the tree is dedicated to the military families – its ornaments were decorated by their children.

 

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The tree is filled with blues and spots of red.  I hate to say this – but it kind of looks a mess to me – it’s not balanced looking.   It just looks like a bunch of ornaments stuck up on there without any thought to the design at all – it takes away from the beauty of the tree.   Isn’t less always more?

 

  

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The blue room without decorations.  Notice the chandelier.  Wouldn’t the curtains be prettier if they were blue and cream instead of gold?

 

 

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Nothing is prettier than Jackie Kennedy’s blue room – notice how the cornices blend into the wallpaper.  The blue is soft, not garish.  The paintings are properly hung – eye level.    A pretty skirted table feels right in the room.  Today, there is an oval rug – which is probably better than this one.  The chandelier is beautiful and is less frou frou than the one that is there now.    Can’t we go back to this look?  Softer colors, less clutter?

 

 

 

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The Green Room had been recently updated by the Bushes.   The touches of deep coral do look pretty.  The rug was added at that time.

 

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The decorations, with the trees in the windows are pretty – I love those trees with the long branches that extend out.    

 

A pretty nighttime view of the trees in the windows – but shouldn’t they have hidden the spotlights??

 

 

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Here is a great view on the enfilade – from the Green Room to the East Room, which is next on the tour!

 

 

After the redecoration, Peter Vitale took this beautiful picture.  The chandelier!

 

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Close up of the 19th century French chandelier in the Green Room – gorgeous.



 

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The double sized East Room has 4 fireplaces and three chandeliers.  Notice those beautiful candelabras. 

 

 

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And how the fireplaces were decorated with large wreaths and red ribbons.  Not how it all relates though – the big trees to the small trees in the windows to the red and dark green of the fireplace. 

 

 

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The trees in the windows.

 

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One of three chandeliers – once gas, now electrified. 

 

 

 

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The Crèche is set up in the East Room between two of the larger trees.    The Creche is one of the only religious symbols of the White House Christmas.  At least there is at least one!!!

 

 

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One of the four fireplaces in the East Room. 

 

 

Dinner is set on red striped tablecloths. 

 

 

 

Desserts on polka dotted red tablecloths.  

 

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They cover the rugs for the parties – to preserve them.   Notice the moldings – over the doors especially!

 

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And here  you can see how it usually looks – two of the fireplaces at the far end.  There are three rugs in the room, along with three chandeliers.

 

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  The room was renovated during Roosevelt’s time in 1902. 

 

 

After the tour of the main floor, you go back down the staircase to the Map Room, then the Diplomatic Reception room where you take a picture with the President and First Lady.  Next is the China Room. 

 

 

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The hall below the main floor in the White Houses has decorated arches.

 

 

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The oval Diplomatic Room below the Blue Room is where the President and First Lady take pictures with each and every guest at the Christmas party.   Must be so tiring!!!   The painted wall paper is the most beautiful part of the room.  The Zuber paper was installed by Jacqueline Kennedy in 1961 (of course she installed it)  and shows Views of North America.  The Federal Style furniture covered in yellow has been a constant in the room since 1960.  This room used to be the broiler room which was removed in the Truman renovation.  This is also where Franklin Roosevelt held his famous fireside chats. 

 

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Next, the China Room is decorated with a table set with china from the Trumans.   This room used to be where the fireman slept who watched over the furnace that was housed in the oval Diplomatic room next door.  Today it holds china from each president.  The Lincoln’s have one of the prettiest sets – creamware – that is visible on the top shelf, third section from the left.    The cabinets are lined in red velvet and the windows are covered in silk taffeta. 

 

  

 

The room is remarkable for its beautiful portrait of Mrs. Calvin Coolidge by Howard Chandler Christy, 1924. 

 

 

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Next is the Vermeil Room which holds the collection of vermeil donated to the White House by Margaret Thompson Biddle in 1958.     This room at least has wrapped presents under the tree. 

 

 

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Here you can see part of the vermeil collection.  This is such a pretty room, so feminine, and it is filled with portraits of First Ladies.    The trees seem less cluttered and prettier here.  

 

 

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Here is how the room looks without the Christmas decorations, all soft yellows and greens.  The Turkish Hereke rug is from 1860.  Lady Bird Johnson looks down over the incredible mantel. 

 

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The original 1815 Duncan Phyfe sofa sits under a portrait of Jacqueline Kennedy painted by Aaron Shikler in her NYC apartment in 1970.

 

Shikler also painted the official portrait of Nancy Reagan. 

 

 

 

 

 

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After the picture with the First Couple is taken, guest can return upstairs to eat and mingle.   When leaving, you exit back through the East Garden Room where a life size figure of Bo is set up – all tangled up in Christmas lights, as if Bo is mischievous and not well behaved!!  That would NEVER happen.  He is one of the best trained dogs I've ever seen!!!

 

 

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  The real Bo, dressed in a Santa hat came to visit the faux Bo.  Last  year, the theme of Christmas was Bo – each room was decorated with faux Bos.

 

 

 

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This year the East  Garden Room was set up as a children’s wonderland with a tree filled with pastel colored frosted balls.    This room with the faux Bo is one of the only places dedicated to children. 

 

 

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And, the final leg of the journey is the long hall way that leads from the East Garden Room to the East Wing.   The wreaths in the window are alternated with faux wreaths designed by the artist Csicsko.  For more information on his work for the White House, go HERE.

 

 

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Outside the East  Corridor Hallway are the trees Csicsko created for the First Lady’s Garden.

 

The gingerbread house is a huge part of the Christmas decorations, but it wasn’t always this way,  First Lady Patricia Nixon was the first one to request the cake.

 

This year, the White House Gingerbread House is somewhat different than the previous years.  Pastry Chef  Bill Yosses created the 300 pound house with a North Portico view.  There are rooms filled with chocolate furniture, photographs in the windows, working electric lights, Santa and reindeer on the roof and Christmas trees made out of blown sugar globes.  The house is made out of traditional gingerbread, but it is overlaid with a gray bread recipe to duplicate the original color of the stone and there are white chocolate columns. 

 

 

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The house took six weeks to build and the difference this year is in the rye, buckwheat and whole wheat flour used to create the walls.  This recipe replicates the sandstone from Virginia that was used to build the original White House.   The color accurately depicts the way the house looked before it was painted white in 1798 to protect the stone.    Another difference is the North Portico view – a first for the Obamas.   The previous 3 Obama gingerbread houses were white chocolate covered and showed the South side of the White House.   The gingerbread is made in September, giving it time to go stale – and harden.

 

 

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This year’s gingerbread White House with the vegetable garden to the left.   This is the most elaborate garden recreated to date.

 

image Here you can see how the inside is lit up and notice the second story and basement windows with the photographs inside the frame.  Notice the difference in color from past years?    For recipes and more information, go HERE.


 

2011:

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Here is Yosses' 2011 gingerbread house with the South Portico view.    This house weighed 400 pounds and featured four fully furnished rooms to resemble a doll house.   Which view do you prefer – North like this year or South like last year?  The South view seems prettier and more romantic with its double balcony. 

 

2010:

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In 2010, the house was solid white chocolate over gingerbread with the South Portico view.  Only two rooms were open – the East Room and State Dining Room.  Bo was there, of course!

 

 

 

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In 2009, the house was also solid white chocolate over gingerbread, with a South Portico view.  The dining room was open, there were electrical lights, a smaller Bo and a much tinier garden.  I like the green wreaths in the windows.  

 

 

  Here is a closeup of the dining room, completely made out of chocolate!

 

 

2008:

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In 2008, for the Bushes last year, the theme was a Red, White and Blue Christmas.

 

2007:

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This South Portico house from the Bush Christmas 2007 shows American animals – the theme that year was Holiday in the National Parks.   This was the first white chocolate covered gingerbread house made. 

 

 

  2006:

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2006 – a more typical gingerbread house.  Looks kind of messy though.

 

  2005:

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Pastry chef Thaddeus DuBois created this in 2005 – much neater looking.

 

 

2004:

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This is cute – 2004.  It’s amazing how much different the gingerbread cake is today.   Each pastry chef has his own style which is so obvious from the way they look.   The White House 2004 holiday theme was, 'A Season of Merriment and Melody' which you can see how all the people are singing.  Back during the Bush years, the themes wove through all the decorations – including the gingerbread house.

 

2003:

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2003 – cute, but it looks kind of messy again.   Still it does appeal to the children.  The theme that year was reading and literacy – and you can see all the books highlighted in the yard. 

 

 

 

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  Wow- this one is totally different.   The walls were exposed to show three rooms. 

 

In 1994 – the chefs made a replica of Hillary Clinton’s childhood home.

 

 

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In 1993, the White House was built, this is a really pretty one!

 

 

 

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Mrs. Reagan had an A-frame gingerbread house – made by the pastry chef.   This was the only style ever made for several different administrations when this chef worked there.  Darling puppy! 

 

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The Carters with an A-frame gingerbread house. 

 

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1972.   The gracious Patricia Nixon started the tradition of the gingerbread house in the White House!   I wonder what she would think of today’s version.  It certainly is an incredible feat compared to this gingerbread house.   Which do you prefer – the simpler version or the more accurate image of the White House gingerbread?

 

 

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Now, this is my idea of a great gingerbread house!  This isn’t from the White House, but from a catering company HERE that sells these White House gingerbreads.  Isn’t this adorable!!!  I love the candy cane columns and the peppermints.  To me, this is what a gingerbread house should look like – so appealing to the children!

 

 

 

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The White House is always kind to also observe Hanukah.  This year was a special celebration when the menorah came from Temple Israel which destroyed on Long Island by Hurricane Sandy.  The Obama’s also host a Passover dinner each year.  Did you know that Michelle’s first cousin is a Rabbi?

 

 

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Rabbi David S. Bauman of Temple Israel, who led the Hanukah service, is a reserve chaplain in the Marine Corps.  The menorah is 7 ft tall – and was on the second floor when it survived a 10 foot storm surge that destroyed all the prayer books, the library and the six Torahs of Temple Israel.    Choosing a significant menorah for the White House ceremony is typical.  In 2010, the President's guests lit candles on a menorah borrowed from a New Orleans temple, reclaimed after Congregation Beth Israel was ravaged by Katrina.

 

As I said at the start, looking at the White House decorations of the past few years, it seems like something is missing.  The decorations don’t seem very religious.  They also don’t seem very child friendly.  I know that Christmas is a religious holiday, but it’s also such an wonderful part of a child’s experience – it is also about candy canes and nutcrackers, wrapped presents and Santa Claus, reindeer and elves – and all this seems missing from the recent decorations.    And one other thing – it doesn’t seem like winter wonderland.   Snow and the North Pole are associated with Santa Claus and many of us wake up to a Christmas morning filled with snow, just like this year.  

 

Now, in half the world, Christmas is celebrated in the summer!  In Australia – look how Anna Spiro celebrated her Christmas:

 

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In Australia, it is summer during Christmas and Anna Spiro set up this table for the Christmas brunch, outside in her yard!  Beautiful!   And so hard to believe that this is Christmas for them – summertime! 

 

But for us North Americans – Christmas means snow and many this year were lucky to have a White Christmas this year. 

Doesn’t the theme of a White Christmas seem missing from the White House decorations?  They just seem so bland – maybe trying too hard to be all things to all people, politically correct?????

 Are the other, older decorations more classically Christmas????

The answer is YES!!!!

I didn’t have to look far to find a classic Christmas décor in the White House – George and Laura Bush’s decorations were so fabulous!! Just look at the difference between this year and the years of the Bushes!!!

 

 

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2004.  Now, THIS is a winter wonderland Christmas!!  All white snow and gold balls and leaves – this is what I think of when I think of Christmas decorations.  Whomever was designing the decorations for Laura Bush was so talented.

 

 

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In 2004, Mrs. Bush’s theme was  the “Season of Merriment and Melody” and showcased icicle trees.  Wow – this is really a winter wonderland and so magical, just what Christmas should be!!!  This must have been spectacular!!!  I can’t even imagine have wonderful this was in person!!!!!!

 

 

 

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And more – snow and gold, that’s all you need.

 

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Wow!  Just wow!

 

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More of 2004’s “Season of Merriment and Melody” brought another children’s singing favorite - Frosty the Snowman. 

 

 

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That Christmas – caroling dolls were placed on the dining tables, all dressed in white.  Imagine how the children must have loved this so much!!  I bet they still remember this – even in their adulthood.

 

 

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In 2008, her last year as a First Lady, the theme was A Red, White and Blue Christmas – yet there was still plenty of snow capped trees.   Mrs. Bush must have liked the snowy trees!  So do I!!

 

 

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Another look at the Red, White and Blue Christmas.

 

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 Huge nutcrackers for the children – not easily ever forgotten.

 

 

 

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And a Union Jack nutcracker greeted the children of all ages outside.

 

 

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  Even the main Blue Room trees still looked wintry – like this one had snow and icicles spread throughout.  This tree looks more thought-out and designed instead of just putting on ornaments every which way.

 

 

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In 2001, the theme was Home for the Holidays, which I just love.   Models of houses of the First Families were displayed around the White House.    She thought of this theme in honor of her twin girls who would be coming home from college for Christmas. 

 

 

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Here is President Lyndon B. Johnson’s ranch house in Texas – under Mamie Eisenhower’s official portrait.

 

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Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello sat underneath George H.W. Bush’s portrait.

 

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John Q. Adams’ Massachusetts house was placed in the Green Room, with it’s previous décor before Laura Bush redecorated this room.

 

 

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Sagamore Hill, home of Theodore Roosevelt was placed in the East Room, which he had redecorated –  where all the Tiffany renovations were removed in favor of the more 18th century classical décor.

 

 

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A close up of Bush’s snowy and icicle trees.  She always dressed in red when presenting the Holiday decorations.

 

 

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Here the Nutcracker was preformed alongside a tree filled with candy canes and peppermints – again, so Christmas!!

 

 

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This year there were red and silver balls and snow in the State Dining Room.

 

 

 

 

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In 2002, “All Creatures Great and Small” was the theme which was done in reds and gold.  Mrs. Bush honored all the White House pets, including the Johnson’s beagles, shown here.  What a cute theme for the children.  Another year, she chose the theme to honor our national parks. 

 

 

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“Season of Stories” was the theme for 2003, which honored reading and books.  She used archived ornaments from her mother in law, Mrs. George H.W. Bush in honor of her devotion to literacy.  Here, Alice in Wonderland was featured in the State Dining Room.  Another great theme for the children. 

 

 

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Mrs. Bush wasn’t the only First Lady that loved snowy white trees.  These are from the Clinton’s in 1987. 

 

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And the Carters had a young child living in the White House – here they chose a Victorian styled Christmas with toys and a doll house, just for their daughter Amy.  Boy, that garland is soooo dead!!!   Compared with the Christmas decorations of today, this is almost skimpy looking, but it is heartfelt and sweet.

 

Maybe next year the Obamas will make the decorations less artistic.  Every year they seem to pick artists to showcase who bring a contemporary touch to the décor, but is that what people really want?   Don’t you love all the candy canes and peppermints and snow and icicles and toys and nutcrackers????  Or am I the only one?????

 

Here’s a quick look at my Christmas this year!

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We are lucky to spend our annual Christmas with Ben’s family at his brother and sister in law’s ranch in Chappell Hill, Texas – a quick hour drive away.  Remember last year I showed you Shannon’s newly constructed closet?

 

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She collects all kinds of Mexicana and has a nice assortment of Mexican Dia De Los Muertos dolls.   You can see some of them on her island in her closet where she displays them.  Well, this year Shannon decided to have a Mexican themed Christmas:

 

 

 

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Sorry about the bad photos – they are from my iphone.   Shannon moved all her ceramic dolls to the mantel in the living room.  Behind them she hung a painting of an agave to further the theme.

 

 

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  Her main tree was filled with Mexican ornaments – and included large bright paper flowers.  Next to it she placed her life sized Dia De Los Muertos doll.  It scared me to death each time I walked into the room!!

 

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Even the gingerbread area had a Mexican theme with a serape clad mariachi figure.  It’s fun to switch things around and totally unexpected!!!

 

 

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Here is how we wrapped our presents this year.   I bought the ivory and silver paper from Ballard Designs along with burlap ribbon and balls in the blue and ivory to match.   The cards matched too.  Matchy-matchy.   The entire collection is from Suzanne Kasler and they came out cute I think!!  I was so excited to be all coordinated.

 

 

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For the gifts that needed a bag – we bought some matte silver ones with silver/blue paper from Craftex in Houston – it matched perfectly.  

 

After we left Chappell Hill, we came home and rested through New Years Day.  WONDERFUL!!!

 

And how was your Christmas!!!!!????  New Years???