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Lea Berman
Lea Berman
Special Assistant to the President and White House Social Secretary

December 2, 2005

Lea Berman
Happy Holidays, and thanks for having me. The White House is always a busy place, but it is especially so this month, when the President and Mrs. Bush will be hosting 24 events over the next three weeks, and personally welcoming over 9500 people to the White House. In addition, 44,000 people will tour the White House to view the decorations of the season. Mrs. Bush and the White House staff have been planning Christmas events since April, and we are all looking forward to this joyous time of year.

Cliff, from Brimfield, Ohio writes:
Assistant Berman: How long does it take to decorate the White House for Christmas? Do you have volunteers that help with all the details? I saw the First Lady showing some of the stuff on TV. It looks like a real challenge to get it all done. Does the First Lady or the President pick the theme? Thank You (PS: Have a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year)

Lea Berman
Happy Christmas to you, Cliff. It takes three days of intensive effort to decorate the White House. A small army of volunteers converge under the direction of White House florist Nancy Clarke, many of them skilled professional florists, to transform the White House for the holidays. Mrs. Bush selects the theme each Christmas. This year the theme is “All Things Bright and Beautiful”, which is a line from a hymn by Cecil Alexander. She is an avid gardener, so it is appropriate that she would choose a theme that highlights the beauty to be found in nature. Our decorations this year are made of fresh flowers, fruits and greens to reflect the natural beauty of nature.

Courtney, from Indiana writes:
When did the Whitehouse gingerbread tradition begin, and by whom?

Lea Berman
Mrs. The White House gingerbread house tradition began during the Nixon Administration and it has been continued by the White House pastry chefs ever since then. Thaddeus Dubois, our current pastry chef, did an amazing job of capturing every tiny architectural detail of the White House on this year’s house, as well as including the family pets on the front lawn. This year’s gingerbread house was also unusual because it features the North Portico of the White House, rather than the South Portico, which it what has traditionally been depicted. It is an amazing piece of workmanship in all its fine detail.

claire, from new york, ny writes:
What will become of the White House gingerbread house? WIll it be donated or something? To whom? Thanks--

Lea Berman
Sadly, the beautiful gingerbread house cannot be preserved past the holidays. It is made of sugar and other edible materials that don’t stand the test of time. That’s why we take lots of pictures of each gingerbread house, and appreciate it so much while we do have it.

Mike, from Page, AZ writes:
When I used to live in the DC area, every year I would make a special trip downtown and buy an official White House Christmas ornament for my Christmas tree. Are these available to purchase online? Thanks, Mike

Lea Berman
The official White House ornaments are available online at the White House Historical Association website at They make a wonderful Christmas gift, and proceeds from the sale of the ornaments are used to maintain the White House and to purchase special items for the White House collections.

Gina, from DC writes:
When will the National Christmas tree be lit?

Lea Berman
The National Christmas Tree is always lit in early December as part of the Pageant of Peace program on the Ellipse behind the White House. The President and Mrs. Bush attend each year and enjoy the tree lighting and entertainment provided by nationally-known entertainers. It is the official beginning of the holiday season at the White House. The President and Mrs. Bush lit the National Tree on Thursday, December 1st. Click here to see the photos, watch the video, and read the President's remarks.

Debra, from Alpharetta, GA writes:
HelloWhat will the official White House Christmas card for 2005 look like?

Lea Berman
The painting by Jamie Wyeth that portrays a wintery White House as Barney, Miss Beazley and even, Willie the cat, is displayed in the East Room. The painting is the model for this year's White House Christmas Card. White House photo by Shealah Craighead The card this year was painted by noted American artist Jamie Wyeth. It is a beautiful rendering of the South Portico of the White House, flanked by the Jackson magnolia, under a blanket of snow. The President and Mrs. Bush’s pets, Barney and Miss Beazley, two Scottish terriers, and India the cat, are pictured in the foreground, frolicking on the South Lawn. It is a welcoming winter scene.

Daryl, from Washington, DC writes:
Hello Ms. Berman, I was wondering, with all of the holiday activity going on at The White House, what are Barney and Miss Beasly's favorite holiday activities? Thank you Daryl

Lea Berman
Barney and Miss Beazley are pretty skilled with a soccer ball – they really know how to charge the ball – and have a great time doing it through out the year. But I’m sure they are hoping for a white Christmas because there’s nothing they like better than playing in the snow.

Christine, from St. Marys, Ohio writes:
Will there be a Christmas "program" this year with President and the first lady giving the televison "cameras" a guided tour??? We really enjoyed it this year and if there will be a Christmas special like this, I certainly do NOT want to miss it

I would appreciate a reply and have a Merry Christmas and Prosperous New Year

God Bless, Christine Smith St. Marys, OH

Lea Berman
There is not a television program hosted by the President and the First Lady this year, Christine, but each year HGTV produces a special on Christmas at the White House, which begins airing on December 7th. I hope you have a chance to see how beautiful the White House really is!

Lea Berman
Thank you for sending along your questions about holiday at the White House. From all the staff here at the Residence, we wish you a joyous holiday season and a healthy and prosperous New Year.