Fascinating Facts Behind White House Christmases…

The East Room /The White House 2022

Dear Reader:

Honey left behind a bag full of Christmas gifts… they could fill the Twelve Days of Christmas … and then some. Amazing ” Elves” -Mike and Honey are unbelievable .

One gift she knew I would love…was this year’s ( 2022) White House Christmas Tree ornament. It arrived with all kinds of stories about past and present White House Christmases… ornaments and Christmas cards.

Lately it has been one room that has caught the attention of First Ladies when deciding on the decor and ornaments for a particular Christmas theme. The East Room… packed full of interesting historical tidbits.

The East Room is the largest of the State Rooms in the White House and was the last to be finished. President John Adams and First Lady Abigail Adams, the first couple to occupy the Executive Mansion, hung their laundry to dry in the unfinished East Room.

Then in August of 1814 British troops burned the White House-the scenario when Dolley Madison saved the famous Gilbert Stuart portrait of George Washington. The first funeral services conducted in this room -held for the first President to die in office, William Henry Harrison, followed by Zachary Taylor, and President Abraham Lincoln. Ironically Lincoln loved the East Room… remembering when Tad rode a chair pulled by a goat through it to amuse his father. ( Union soldiers used the East Room as a temporary camp.)

Theodore Roosevelt ‘s administration transformed the East Room from Victorian furnishings to French inspired neoclassical decor. Roosevelt’s children roller skated through the East Room and daughter Alice married in it.

The Truman family moved out during his tenure to renovate rooms including the East Room /later Truman showcased the new East Room on television.

During the Kennedy administration ( 1962) Jackie had an 18th century religious Neapolitan Crèche installed in the East Room against a backdrop of gold curtains. The Nativity scene included men, women, angels, animals, kings, and cherubs arranged in a pyramid shape, symbolic of an evergreen tree.

The following year ( 1963) the Kennedy family chose a photograph of the Crèche in the East Room as the image for their Christmas card. About thirty Crèche cards were signed by the President and First Lady before their late November trip to Dallas. *** Mysteriously these signed thirty cards still suddenly appear on secretive auctions around the country and world.

In reality Christmas 1963 was the saddest holiday as it found Jackie and her two small children quietly leaving their White House home and moving into a friend’s Georgetown rental apartment …made quickly available for them.

Kennedy became the eighth President to die in office-his body lying in repose in the East Room. *** Interesting tidbit… In honor of Kennedy… the following year Lyndon B Johnson signed Kennedy’s Civil Rights Legislation into law ( 1964 Civil Rights Act) in front of live television in the East Room.

President and First Lady, Nancy Reagan hired Thomas William Jones to freely create and paint his impressions of the East Room, State Dining Room, and North Entry Hall… giving recognition to all combined. Hallmark reproduced 125,000 cards and 7,200 gift prints for the Reagan’s sixth Christmas at the White House.

Reagan Christmas card

*** Only at Christmas is the Kennedy Crèche on display in the East Room of the White House…

” We the People” -2022 Christmas Theme

Gold Star Trees honoring fallen soldiers are seen in the East Entrance -start of tour

Star ornaments on the trees recognize the names, rank, and date of death

The trees line the Cross Hall

We the People -theme- is found above the East Wing Entrance

In the East Room national parks are recognized
The White House Christmas Tree is also found in the Blue Room
Peace and Tranquility is the theme entering and leaving the East Colonade

So until tomorrow… May ” Peace and Tranquility” prevail over our country once again… starting with us ” We the People.”

Today is my favorite day-Winnie the Pooh

About Becky Dingle

I was born a Tarheel but ended up a Sandlapper. My grandparents were cotton farmers in Laurens, South Carolina and it was in my grandmother’s house that my love of storytelling began beside an old Franklin stove. When I graduated from Laurens High School, I attended Erskine College (Due West of what?) and would later get my Masters Degree in Education/Social Studies from Charleston Southern. I am presently an adjunct professor/clinical supervisor at CSU and have also taught at the College of Charleston. For 28 years I taught Social Studies through storytelling. My philosophy matched Rudyard Kipling’s quote: “If history were taught in the form of stories, it would never be forgotten.” Today I still spread this message through workshops and presentations throughout the state. The secret of success in teaching social studies is always in the story. I want to keep learning and being surprised by life…it is the greatest teacher. Like Kermit said, “When you’re green you grow, when you’re ripe you rot.”
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4 Responses to Fascinating Facts Behind White House Christmases…

  1. Johnny Johnson says:

    I have to say Wow to today’s writing(s)! I have been across the ocean to Countries of Europe, I have driven across the mighty Mississippi River, but in all of my 66+ years, I have never been to or into the Whitehouse. You took me on a Journey today filled with fascination and Christmas Magic all at once. I started reading at my normal pace and caught myself and stopped, backed up to the Dear Reader and started reading at a slowed pace capturing all of the descriptions and looking at the photographs closely, absorbing it all. As I have told you before I am a bit of a History buff and when the History is of these United States of America I am really all about it! Oh but couple that with Christmas and it’s History in the Nations Capital and I was mesmerized! And the new word today for me was Crèche! I have seen works of art made like the piece Jackie Kennedy had placed with a backdrop of golden drapes, was a beautiful piece of art work! But I never knew the proper name for artwork like the Kennedy piece. One day before the Lord takes me home I must see the Whitehouse! Now I know that I want to go near Christmas so I can see the building in its Christmas Decor. I think it tells the world, In God We Trust! I loved every single letter and color of today’s writing! Thank you for opening my peace and tranquility this morning!

    Like

    • Becky Dingle says:

      Johnny… it is so nice to know that there is another history lover out there who gets the same thrill reading about newly unveiled historical stories as I do researching and discovering them myself! You make Christmas come every day with comments like this! Merry Christmas Johnny and family!

      Sent from my iPhone

      Like

  2. Johnny Johnson says:

    Thank you Mrs. Dingle! Merry Christmas to you and your Family!

    Like

  3. Rachel Edwards says:

    ❤🎄❤

    Like

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