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For Immediate Release
Office of the First Lady
December 1, 2003

Mrs. Bush's Remarks Upon Receiving the White House Christmas Tree
The North Portico

10:50 A.M. EST

MRS. BUSH: This is one of the favorite happenings at the White House, and that is when we accept the tree from the Christmas tree grower who's been chosen this year to donate the tree to the White House. And it's the Chapman family, from Wisconsin, this tree was actually grown on their farm. And we're so thrilled. Thank you very, very much; thanks, all of you.

I don't know if you noticed, but Mrs. Chapman rode in on the cart with the tree, and I think it made her so happy she cried. (Laughter.) It's sort of a Bush family tradition, as well.

We wish everybody a very happy Christmas. This is the perfect time to start the season, on December 1st. I know that people all over America will be buying their Christmas trees, starting to set them up, if they didn't already do that over the Thanksgiving holidays.

Inside there are many elves right now decorating. They're already starting to decorate the mantels and the fireplaces, and you all will get a preview of that later this week. But as soon as this tree is set up, then all the people who volunteer from around the country to help us decorate the White House will start putting the ornaments up on the tree. So we want to wish everyone a very, very happy holiday season. We want to also thank the Chapmans and the National Christmas Tree Growers Association for this magnificent tree, which all of you will get to see later, decorated.

So do you have any questions before we go in?

Q Mrs. Bush, tell us about your Thanksgiving holiday. Give us your side of that story.

MRS. BUSH: We had a very happy Thanksgiving. I knew, of course, that the President had gone, had left the night before. I knew the Bushes didn't know, so when they -- about 15 minutes before they drove up, I called the head of my detail to see if he knew where the President was, and he said, oh, they're 15 minutes out -- meaning the other President, the former President. So we told them as soon as they got there. And we were anxious, there was a lot of anxiety; the girls were nervous, anxious. But we're all so really proud of the President. We were just sorry we didn't get to go with him.

Q When did you get to talk to him? I assume he called --

MRS. BUSH: He called me shortly after we heard that there was a wheels-up --

Q -- coming back from Baghdad?

MRS. BUSH: -- he called shortly after 11:00 a.m., I think it was, Texas time.

Q And what did he have to say?

MRS. BUSH: Well, he just told us about it, and how sweet it was.

Q Any plans for Christmas trips? (Laughter.)

MRS. BUSH: Not that I know of right now, but don't worry, I'll let you know first thing when I hear. (Laughter.)

Q Would you like to go?

MRS. BUSH: I would like to go. I'd really like to go, and I'd really like to go to Afghanistan. I hope I'll have a chance in the spring to go to Afghanistan, as well.

All right, everybody, I'll see you later this week when we tour the decorations. So thanks everybody for coming out today. We're going to go in and drink our hot chocolate now.

END 10:53 A.M. EST

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