A White House Christmas

by Dr. Jessie Voigts / Dec 20, 2014 /
Dr. Jessie Voigts's picture

Whilst I was wandering through the White House a few weeks ago, marveling at the beautiful and creative Christmas decorations, I felt an immense sense of pride. Pride that this is our nation’s home, built and rebuilt after fire and war. Pride at the decorations, which this year honor our Armed Forces and their families with the theme America the Brave. Pride for the volunteers that coordinated and created these remarkable tableaus. And a sense of astonishment, to actually BE in the White House, and have the chance to meander around and take part in history.

How did I get there? I was invited, as one of the top 100 travel bloggers and digital media influencers, to attend the White House Summit on Study Abroad and Global Citizenship (follow the discussion on twitter: #WHTravelBloggers and #StudyAbroadBecause). And while we worked hard and learned much about the administration’s plans for creating a new study abroad office, and promoting international education (yay!), we also had fun and toured the White House, beautifully decorated with 26 (!) Christmas trees.

My phone was running out of battery juice and I didn’t get all the photos I wanted. But here are some to give you the flavor of being there, without the hour+ wait of standing in line to get through security. I've also found some excellent historical links to the White House and the White House Museum for certain areas - be sure to click through and read this house's storied history.

 

A White House Christmas. #WHHolidays #WHTravelBloggers

At the East Visitor Entrance and Landing, there were plenty of fragrant pine and cedar boughs, and a tree honoring America's troops, veterans, their families, and our fallen soldiers. This tree was a warm welcome to the White House, and a reminder that it takes a nation of people working together to create a nation.

 

A White House Christmas - Looking out the windows from the East Visitor Landing. #WHHolidays #WHTravelBloggers

Looking out the windows from the East Visitor Landing.

 

A White House Christmas - looking out the windows at the National Mall. #WHHolidays #WHTravelBloggers

Looking out the windows at the National Mall, with an enormous, shiny gift tucked in amongst the shrubbery.

 

The library at the White House, decorated for Christmas. #WHHolidays #WHTravelBloggers

You won't be surprised to learn that this was my favorite room - the LIBRARY! There are 2700 volumes of American history in this room, and the tree sparkled, while the center table featured hand-painted globes. Books + travel = happiness.

 

White House Christmas - in the East room. #WHHolidays #WHTravelBloggers

The very long East Room, home to weddings, funerals, and many important events, had classic Christmas decorations (and not Abigail Adams' laundry!), but I was intrigued by Teddy Roosevelt looking on. I could almost hear him speaking to us (at great length!).

 

East Room, White House. #WHHolidays #WHTravelBloggers

You know what's better than a Leaning Tower of Pisa photo? President Washington, patting me on the head. Yep. In the East Room. The portrait of President Washington is the oldest possesssion in the White House.

 

Christmas tree in the Blue Room, White House. #WHHolidays #WHTravelBloggers

This Christmas tree in the Blue Room perfectly captured the decor of the room (inspired by America the Beautiful). This is the Official White House Christmas tree, and has 2,000 ornaments honoring our service members. The Blue Room, an elliptical room, is the center of the State Floor of the White House.

 

Best view in DC - looking out from the Blue Room, White House. #WHHolidays #WHTravelBloggers

Also in the Blue Room? The best view in Washington, DC. The central window (actually a jib door) overlooks the South Portico along the National Mall.

 

The Red Room, White House Christmas. #WHHolidays #WHTravelBloggers

The Red Room is just east of the Blue Room, and I especially loved the mantel decorations. The Red Room is known as the President's antechamber, and was also Mrs. Lincoln's favorite room.

 

Travel! White House Christmas. #WHHolidays #WHTravelBloggers

Tucked into a corner when I entered the State Dining Room was another travel tableau - this one featuring vintage trunks that had traveled the world.

 

State Dining Room, White House Christmas. . #WHHolidays #WHTravelBloggers

Also in the State Dining Room, several trees flanked a portrait over President Lincoln over the mantel. The room also featured an enormous gingerbread White House.

 

Portrait of JFK, White House. #WHHolidays #WHTravelBloggers

Right around the corner from the State Dining Room, in the long Cross Hall, hung John F. Kennedy's remarkable (and unusual) Presidential Portrait, painted by Aaron Shikler. It was a somber reminder of the toll the Presidency can take in the lives of the First Families.

 

Icy decorations, Cross Hall, White House. #WHHolidays #WHTravelBloggers

Cross Hall, the long hall that abuts the Entrance Hall, was decorted with icy trees! The hanging glass decorations were beautiful and festive.

 

Presidential Seal, Cross Hall, White House. #WHHolidays #WHTravelBloggers

The Presidential Seal above the doorway to the Blue Room, in Cross Hall.

 

Piano in the Entrance Hall, White House. #WHHolidays #WHTravelBloggers

In addition to books, I also love music, and was entranced by the custom Steinway grand piano in the Entrance Hall. I so wanted to sit down and play a bit!

 

White House Entrance Hall. #WHHolidays #WHTravelBloggers

Marble marker in the area between Cross Hall and the Entrance Hall, commemorating the 1792 building, 1817 rebuilding, 1902 renovation, and 1952 reconstruction of the White House.

 

Fireplace, Entrance Hall, White House. #WHHolidays #WHTravelBloggers

Next to the piano in the Entrance Hall was a lovely table and mirror. Opposite this was a grand stairway.

 

White House front door. #WHHolidays #WHTravelBloggers

Just outside the White House Front Door, once you're on the North Portico, look up! The detailing is extraordinary.

 

The driveway to the White House. #WHHolidays #WHTravelBloggers

And one last look at the White House, as we walked away...

 

 

Learn more about the decorations, volunteers, #WHHolidays, and more (including cute crafts and Bo wrapping paper!) here:
http://www.whitehouse.gov/about/inside-white-house/holidays-2014

And you can download a copy of the 2014 tour book, with descriptions (and a recipe) here:
http://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/image/holidays/tourbook_2014_final.pdf

 

 

 

All photos courtesy and copyright Wandering Educators

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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