Sponsored by:

Comment, blog & share photos

Log in | Become a member
The Honolulu Advertiser

Posted on: Wednesday, December 5, 2001

White House turned into winter wonderland

By Sandra Sobiera
Associated Press Writer

WASHINGTON — Whatever Mother Nature decides, first lady Laura Bush ensured a white Christmas for the White House by blanketing the mansion's State Floor with 800 pounds of artificial snow.

First lady Laura Bush recently gave media representatives a tour of the White House Christmas decorations.
Associated Press

With crystal snowflakes and silvery icicles covering 49 live fir trees throughout the Grand Foyer, East Room and State Dining Room, the president's home is decorated in monochromatic white this year, a look that Mrs. Bush said she chose for its elegance.

"I love the simplicity of it," she said Monday as she led reporters on a tour designed to give the general public — through newspapers and television — its only look at the elaborate holiday decorations. The Bushes, under advice from the Secret Service, canceled the popular public tours after the September terrorist attacks on Washington and New York.

"I am sorry about that. I think our responsibility — the president's and mine, as the current residents — is to err on the side of safety and caution for everyone who goes to the White House," Mrs. Bush said.

"You can really help us by letting people who can't come to the White House this year see what the decorations are like."

After the terrorist attacks, Mrs. Bush chose the Bible verse inside the Christmas card that she and President Bush are sending to thousands of aides, supporters and dignitaries. "Thy face, Lord, do I seek. I believe that I shall see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living," reads the inscription from Psalm 27.

It was that same goodness that America saw on Sept. 11, "so many people sacrificing to help other people," Mrs. Bush said.

The card features a homey Adrian Martinez painting of gifts wrapped, ribboned and waiting on a chair in the second-floor hallway.

Keeping with her "Home for the Holidays" decorating theme, replicas of former presidents' homesteads — from Thomas Jefferson's Monticello to James Buchanan's Wheatland — stand on mantelpieces and tabletops throughout the White House. For ornaments on the centerpiece 18-foot Christmas tree in the Blue Room, artists from each of the 50 states and the District of Columbia were invited to contribute all-white replicas of historic houses in their own states.

In the private living quarters upstairs, staffers decorated the family Christmas tree on Sunday with ornaments from the Bush family collection, including those made by twin daughters Jenna and Barbara when they were children.

"We did not decorate it ourselves this year," Mrs. Bush confessed. "That may be one of the reasons he ran for president. Only kidding."

The traditional gingerbread house, 130 pounds of edible artwork on display in the State Dining Room, pictures the White House as it looked in 1800, when John Adams became its first resident. On the lawn, a candy version of the Bushes' terrier sits beside a chocolate signpost reading "Beware of Barney."

Pastry chef Roland Mesnier said his creation took three weeks to build, would be on display for another three weeks and would then be demolished. "It will gather so much dust, I don't think we can give it to somebody to eat," Mesnier said.

Invited guests to the Bushes' 22 parties (starting Monday with a soiree for decorators and the congressional ball) will not go hungry, but will feast on salmon and fresh fruit laid out on a table watched over by dolls dressed as carolers.

"I want to wish everyone a very, very happy and safe holiday season," Mrs. Bush said. "I hope that all Americans will reach out to their neighbors and their friends and all the people in their community this holiday in honor of the people we lost on Sept. 11. Spread goodwill and cheer everywhere. I sincerely wish for peace on earth in the New Year."