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Laura Bush
Above: Laura Bush stands before the Gingerbread White House on November 30, 2005.
Below: Student reporter Alonzo Webb at the White House.

(Photo: Shealah Craighead)

Decorating the White House
By Alonzo Webb
Scholastic Kids Press Corps

December 5, 2005—The winter holidays are a special time at the White House. Each year, about 44,000 people come to see the holiday decorations or to attend holiday parties at the President's home in Washington, D.C.

I was able to attend a press preview of the holiday decorations recently, which was hosted by First Lady Laura Bush. This year's theme for the decorations is "All Things Bright and Beautiful." The decorations are all made of fresh flowers, garlands, and fruits. The flowers will have to be changed every few days to keep the look fresh.

The main Christmas tree is in the Blue Room. It's an 18-foot fir tree—tall enough that the chandelier had to be removed to make room for it. The tree was grown by Earl and Betsy Deal and their children, Meg and Buddy, of Laurel Springs, North Carolina. Fresh white lilies, crystal garlands, and white lights adorn the White House Christmas tree. The room smells of pine and lilies. The ornaments are crystal and very sparkly.

"I think it's one of the most beautiful Christmas trees I've ever seen with the real lilies on it," Mrs. Bush said.

A Holiday for All Americans

Mrs. Bush was asked whether she called the tree a holiday tree or a Christmas tree.

"We know that Americans celebrate the season in a lot of different ways," she said. "We'll have a Hanukkah party and a Hanukkah reception here at the White House later during the month. But I think we've always called this the White House Christmas tree."

Another centerpiece of the decorations each year is the gingerbread house, made by pastry chief Thaddeus Dubois.

"This is his second gingerbread house, and you'll see how elegant and beautiful it is with its snow-covered trees," Mrs. Bush said. "And this year [Dubois] painstakingly put all of the beautiful trim that the White House really has outside... on the gingerbread house."

The gingerbread house was made with 100 pounds of gingerbread, 150 pounds of white and dark chocolate, and clear, poured sugar windows. A strand of white lights inside the Gingerbread White House make it glow.

Mrs. Bush explained that she chose "All Things Bright and Beautiful" as the theme to highlight nature's beauty.

"We used natural, real flowers and fruits and garlands to show how beautiful nature is, and how many things we can use from our own gardens or woods [for] decorations," she said. "I think it shows how elegant the White House is. You really get a sense of how beautiful the White House is."


All Things Bright and Beautiful
Want to learn more about this year's holiday theme? Check out the official White House Web site for fun facts and photos!

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