The American White House is the nation’s house, the people’s house, and every year the president and first lady present us with a magnificently decorated tree following a theme they choose to represent and honor the country’s spirit. And each first lady, from Jacqueline Kennedy to Michelle Obama, lent her own style to the interior design, the decorations, and the festivities.
The book’s author, Coleen Christian Burke, begins with the first holiday theme presented in the White House, which was orchestrated by Kennedy in 1961. It was based on “The Nutcracker Suite,” and reflected Jacqueline’s love for ballet and classical music. She liked using small wrapped presents on her trees, and simple instructions on how to make them are included.
In the years and administrations that followed, each first lady’s holiday theme interpreted the mood or condition of the time. On December 23, 1963, the black mourning bunting came down, and Lady Bird Johnson used only live evergreens to decorate the White House, her way of showing respect for President Kennedy. Christmas of 1967 saw the White House wedding of daughter Linda Bird Johnson, and the unofficial theme that year was red velvet and satin.
Photos of themed trees and décor. Official presidential family Christmas photos. Hillary’s cookies, Nancy’s monkey bread, Rosalynn’s hat ornaments, Laura’s topiary champagne buckets. Burke collects the White House traditions in chapters organized chronologically, each dedicated to the holidays of a first lady. And each chapter promises special treats: recipes, ornament crafts, or entertaining tips from the first ladies’ personal files.
Reading this book led me to seek the White House online, and I found photos for the day after this Thanksgiving when Michelle Obama and her daughters received this year’s Christmas tree delivery. And so the tradition continues, to the delight of the nation.
With anecdotes and historical, intimate photos of the presidential families during the holiday season, this book is a wonderful gift for anyone who loves Christmas and the heartwarming traditions it inspires. This book is a prized collection that invites all of us into America’s house for the holidays.