For the past several days volunteers from around the country have been rapidly trimming the White House – each year since 1961 with First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy (she choose the Nutcracker Suite) the White House holiday decor has had an official theme. Today, Mrs. Obama unveiled the big secret (the White House always keeps the theme a surprise). The official theme for 2011 is “Shine, Give, Share,” to highlight the nation’s troops- “I want to thank all of the troops, all of our veterans and all of our military families,” Mrs. Obama said at the unveiling. “Your service and sacrifice inspire us all.”
Tributes to America’s service members can be found throughout the home. There’s a special Christmas tree to honor the nation’s Gold Star families on the East Landing (entrance to the East Wing) that was decorated by Gold Star families themselves. All visiting Gold Star families (those are families who have lost a family member) can inscribe a ceramic gold star to adorn the tree. The decor includes the names and photos of troops whose lives were lost and messages from their loved ones. “Each one showcases the strength and resilience that characterizes our Gold Star families,” Mrs. Obama continued, “they are heartfelt notes, like this one from a wife in East Peoria, Illinois. She wrote about her husband, saying, and this is — these are her words — ‘He never thought of himself as a hero, but he always was to me’. We wanted to rally all Americans to honor, recognize and support our military families……We wanted to make sure that never again would someone have to ask the question, ‘What is a Gold Star family, and what does that sacrifice mean?’ We all should know.” I also love that that during the holiday season, White House visitors will be welcome to write notes to service members.
The Blue Room tree, an 18½-feet tall balsam fir (The official tree given by Sue and Tom Schroeder last Friday) has been decorated with letters from the country’s military children as well as medals, badges and patches from all the military branches.
One of the big stars this holiday however is certainly Bo, the First Family’s pet. The Portuguese water dog is in almost every room, ranging from a miniature licorice and marshmallow version to a felt design 4½-feet tall. We are going to be taking a deeper look at all the décor of this year’s White House theme “Shine, Give, Share,” and next we will focus primarily on all the Bo look-a-likes.