RODALE NEWS, WASHINGTON, DC—Abigail Adams was the first to use one of the state rooms in the White House for something other than its intended purpose. She will always be remembered for hanging her laundry in the East Room.
Following in her footsteps yesterday, the current first lady turned the elegant cream-and-gold State Dining Room into an arts and crafts center, however briefly, for children of Marine Corps families stationed in Washington.
After greeting the families in the East Room, Mrs. Obama led the 23 mostly tiny children in their party best to get their hands dirty decorating gingerbread cookies; turning old newspapers and magazines into wreaths, and adorning Christmas cards with fruit and vegetable stamps. She worked diligently alongside them. (You and your kids can duplicate their work by looking at the how-to instructions on WhiteHouse.gov. You can also download a copy of the White House Christmas tour book.)
The theme for this year’s White House Christmas is “Simple Gifts,” with an emphasis on sustainability: recycling paper by turning it into Christmas trees, garlands, and swags; and repurposing decorations, like gold-sprayed leaves, dug out from years past. Dried pomegranates, artichokes, and yellow pear gourds were turned into modern wreaths in the East Colonnade.
Daniel Shanks, an assistant usher who has seen it all, is particularly keen on this year’s decorations. “I’m so excited,” he said. With good reason: The house looks more elegant, and at the same time more festive, than it has in a long time.
Simple Gifts, Healthy Food
For the holidays the first lady has chosen to highlight the two projects she cares most about: military families and healthful food.
She's once again highlighted the Marine Corps Toys for Tots Foundation; one of the residence's 19 decorated Christmas trees is dedicated to military families, with decorations representing all the branches of service. The tree is crowned with a dove of peace.
Another tree, festooned with gingerbread men, was decorated by 330 children from military families.
Published on: December 1, 2010
Updated on: December 2, 2010