One of my very favorite days of our holiday vacation had finally arrived and I was so, so excited.
But, let us start at the beginning. Every other year Randy and I travel north to visit our families for the holidays. This year was our year to go north. I had, over the years, taken the family to the people’s house, the White House, during the holiday season. The White House this time of year is just beautiful as you walk from room to room and see all the trees and other colorful decorations. It truly is a beautiful sight, a sight that will remain in your heart and mind for the rest of your life.
Randy contacted the office of Senator Marco Rubio and put in a request to get tickets for a tour during our visit. A month went by, then another, and yet another and we wondered if we would get the tickets. Two weeks before we left a confirming email arrived saying that we had been added to the visitor’s list.
I love going to the White House and woke up the morning of the tour with butterflies. Randy, me and Kristine drove down and arrived at the White House a little after 7am. Jennifer, Kevin, Madalyn and Derek decided to take the metro in and arrived a few minutes before the tour began. We had just a few moments to take a few pictures with our cell phones. Pictures, now that was a challenge.
According to security rules you could not take a camera in but you could take a cell phone but it had to be turned off. Once we passed through many levels of security we were told that because it was the holiday season we would be able to use our cell phones to take a few pictures. What wonderful news!!
The theme for this year’s White House decorations is “Joy to All”. We were given a beautiful booklet to use as we set off on a self-guided tour. I will use some of the words from this booklet as we go along.
Our tour began at the east visitor entrance and landing with a tree filled with red, white and blue ornaments paying tribute to our Armed Forces. They also had volunteers asking everyone if they would like to write a note of thanks to our military men and women and, “Send the spirit of joy of the holidays to those who sacrifice so much for our country”. Of course, we all did.
Next we entered the East Garden room all decorated for children and the young-at-heart. There were wreaths made of gingerbread, a life-size replica of Bo, the First Family’s dog and handmade ‘Boflakes’ ornaments hanging from the trees.
We walked down the hall and took time to look into the Library, China Room and the Vermeil Room. All the rooms were tastefully and beautifully decorated with trees and other decorations that told a story or reflected the history of each room.
The Vermeil room was particularly elegant and decorated to, “Celebrate the joy of giving. Lovely presents large and small, wrapped with care, remind us of the fulfillment we experience when we give of ourselves to others around us”.
We walked up to the next level of the White House to visit the East Room, Green Room, Blue Room, Red Room, State Dining Room, Entrance Hall and Cross Hall. I loved the East Room filled with decorations that telling the story of our America’s artistic history of folk art. There were wooden ornaments, antique paintings and needlework to look at and admire.
The Green Room evokes thoughts of, “The joy of the winter garden. Miniature terrariums dangle from the trees and remind us of the beauty of the outdoors”.
The tree in the Blue Room was just wonderful. “The troops, veterans, and military families who serve our country with pride represent what is best about America, and this holiday season, the Blue Room pays tribute to their courageous service”. The tree was filled with ornaments military children living on mmilitary bases al over the world decorated themselves. I was overwhelmed and proud to be in the shadow of this tree.
Our next stop was the Red Room. “In honor of its current red hue, the room is customarily decorated with cranberries–and the tradition continues this year with a cranberry, pepperberry, and billy ball flower-covered vase holding a festive floral arrangement”. Jennifer was particularly taken by the floral arrangement.
Oh, my, the beautiful State Dining Room. I have always loved viewing this room over the years. If I close my eyes and let my imagination run wild I can see all the beautiful women dressed in their holiday finery and gentlemen dressed in tuxedos sitting down to a wonderfully delicious dinner and engaging in lively conversation. And, of course, seeing the White House gingerbread house on display is a treat for the eyes.
Our last stop was the North Entrance and Cross Hall and what a final treat it was. “This space is designed to celebrate and pay tribute to past White House holidays and the rich heritage of celebrations, traditions, and styles that have evolved over the years”. As we entered the hall we could hear music and stood for a while listening as The Possum Holler Fiddlers entertained visitors with many Christmas favorites. The group is sponsored by Ozark Mountain Music of Southwest Missouri. There were four trees decorated with ornaments that represent the holiday legacies of former First Ladies.
All too soon the tour was over but we were taking away with us wonderful memories of our country’s most beautiful house, the peoples’ house, the White House.
It was time for breakfast so we walked just a short distance to the Old Ebbit Grill. I love this restaurant with its elegant dark woods, velvet chair coverings and delicious food. I enjoyed a most delicious Pumpkin French Toast with pecan butter. Oh, my, a mouth watering treat. Everyone enjoyed their dishes very much.
We made a quick stop at the White House gift shop for souvenier 2012 White House ornaments and then took a walk down to see the
National Christmas tree and the Pageant of Peace. I loved all the train sets all in motion around the bottom of the tree. Next we walked around and looked at all the small state trees with their unique to their states ornaments. We sent Derek in search of the Virginia and Florida trees. He did his job well. There was a beautiful nativity scene on the grounds as well as a Santa’s workshop. Unfortunately, the workshop was not open. I hope the children make an effort to come down one evening and see all the trees lit. I watched the tree lighting on tv and thought, how wonderful!
Kristine had gone to work, Jennifer and her family decided to make a day of it and visit the Natural History museum. Randy and me, well, we justed wanted to go back to our hotel and catch a nap. As we turned to leave Maddy and Derek ran up to Randy and me and gave us big hugs and said, “Thank you”. It was a wonderful family day, one that will live in our memories for a very long time.
The next few days we will be visiting with friends. Stay tuned.