The White House
President George W. Bush
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For Immediate Release
Office of the First Lady
December 4, 2003

Mrs. Bush's Remarks at Media Availability on Holiday Decorations
The East Room

11:15 A.M. EST

MRS. BUSH: I think we have Barney coming. Come on, Barney, let's go. Barney is sliding on the floor. (Laughter.)

Welcome to the White House and welcome to the magnificent holiday decorations that I'm so excited to be able to show you today. Barney is part of our decorating, as you can tell. He's sort of just a blob over here on the floor. This year -- there he goes. (Laughter.) He's going to speak to Spot.

This year, we chose the theme of a Season of Stories. We picked our favorite books, and the White House florist and all the White House staff that build the Christmas decorations built all of these papier-mch storybook characters.

Right over here, we have Frog and Toad Together, which was a favorite book of mine to read to children when I was a school librarian. It's also a really great book to buy for early readers. It's sort of a controlled vocabulary so it's a great gift for a kindergartener or a first grader or second grader, a book for them to read themselves.

On the mantel behind all of you is really my favorite book as a child myself, which is Little Women. You'll see all the sisters and Marmie there.

Over on this side, we have Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys. I loved Nancy Drew books and so I really wanted to have Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys on this mantel.

And then finally, our newest, huge bestseller, Harry Potter, which are the books I read this summer, they're on this far mantel over here. I read all five of the Harry Potter books this summer and I loved it. It was great to discover a new author and have their whole body of work to read over summer. And I loved reading those this summer.

So we really tried to put characters everywhere that everyone will recognize, that adults will remember from their childhood, that children will know because they've been read to, like the Cat in the Hat who's out in the hall right here.

And then, of course, our centerpiece in this room is the fabulous chocolate factory from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, and Roland, our brilliant pastry chef, put this chocolate factory together. And, as you can tell, the chocolate is pouring out on top of these cakes. So I think it's really pretty fabulous.

Q Is the cake edible?

MRS. BUSH: This cake is actually for display only. But, of course, as you know, Roland makes everything with real food. So when you come here for a party or come here for -- in a few minutes, you'll be able to have the cakes that he has done that are not just for display, but for eating.

Q Where are you going to spend your Christmas?

MRS. BUSH: We're going to be at Camp David. We'll be here up until Monday, the 22nd. And then we'll go to Camp David.

Q Will the girls be there?

Q Are you sure this holiday?

MRS. BUSH: I'm sure. (Laughter.) I'm sure, that's where we'll be.

Q As we're about to enter this holiday season, you will be entertaining I think 10 nights in a row, or 10 nights -- how do you feel about it and how does the President feel about it? He's known as someone who doesn't really love this.

MRS. BUSH: The parties are fairly early, which is good. No, we really look forward to it. It's a really wonderful way to get to show our friends from around the United States the White House, to see how beautiful these holiday decorations are. And then, as you all know, a lot of the parties are White House staff, they are our Secret Service parties, they are the press parties, so there are only a few that are our friends, and mostly they're staff and press. The Congressional Ball, the Kennedy Center Honors. So there is a party almost every night. But most of them are fairly early in the evening.

Q Do you have to coax him out to --

MRS. BUSH: No, no, not at all. He's really glad to get out and see everybody.

Q Have you bought all the Christmas gifts?

MRS. BUSH: Pardon me?

Q Have you done your shopping?

MRS. BUSH: No. And I actually read an article somewhere that said that it seemed like I was the type that would have finished my shopping, but I'm not that type. (Laughter.)

I actually ran shopping yesterday for a brief -- a very brief shopping time and got a couple of things for my mother and my mother-in-law.

Q What about the twins? Will the --

MRS. BUSH: The twins' shopping, I hope, we'll be able to just do sort of by calling places. They're now at the age that they -- they've already published their lists. They e-mailed them to us. And I no longer even try to buy clothes for them, because --

Q Do you have a New Year's resolution, and is travel in it?

MRS. BUSH: There is -- I do have some New Year's resolutions, of course. I hope to have a happy New Year. I hope our whole country does. I hope that we have peace in the New Year, and that's what I'm hoping for the United States and for the world. And, sure, I have a lot of travel. I'm going to have a lot of campaign travel around the United States this year, since it will be a campaign year.

Q A husband to be reelected?

MRS. BUSH: Certainly. I certainly want that. (Laughter.)

And I will be working very hard to help that happen, if I can help in any way. But I also hope I have the chance to travel overseas some during the new year. I hope I will have that chance. That's what I'm hoping for. We don't have any dates scheduled, but I'll let you know as soon as we schedule one.

Q Mrs. Bush, could you tell us how different is this Christmas, since there is a war on terrorism and we are fighting a war on terrorism?

MRS. BUSH: Really all of our Christmases that we've been here, since September 11th happened 2001 before our first Christmas had been, Christmases where we know Americans have an empty plate at their table -- an empty space at their table. Either they lost someone that first year in the terrorist attack on September 11th, or they have a loved one who is deployed overseas in Iraq or in Afghanistan or in Kosovo or at the DMZ or all the places that American military men and women are deployed.

And one of the things I think we all learned as Americans after September 11th was how we need to cherish our loved ones and our relationship with our loved ones. And certainly the holiday season is a time that we hold our loved ones to us, close to us if we can, be close to us if they can, or we communicate with them if they're a long way away, to send them our love and to let them know how meaningful they are in our lives.

We're also especially grateful at the holiday season for the men and women who do volunteer to protect us in all the ways they do from the military to the firemen to the policemen and are particularly grateful for the blessings that we have as Americans.

Q Mrs. Bush, are you especially inviting survivors, parents and grandparents of those who have lost their children in Afghanistan?

MRS. BUSH: Well, I'm especially sending my love to them. And I know that all Americans -- I ask all Americans to reach out to military families that you know who have someone, a loved one deployed overseas, and give them special support and special care this holiday season. Because the holidays are the most difficult when you are not with someone you love for some reason, whether you've lost them in that terrorist attack, or they've been a casualty of the war on terror, or just because they are deployed somewhere else.

Q Mrs. Bush, beyond the physical and material for your husband this Christmas, what would you wish him above and beyond all, as he's leading this country during a time of war?

MRS. BUSH: Well, I'm especially proud of my husband because he's so steady and because he's very tough. And this job is never easy, you know it's never going to be easy. But, of course, we had no idea how difficult it was going to be for our whole country.

And these are difficult times. These are very challenging times for all Americans. And we all need to remember that we have that strength of character that comes from being an American. And I want all people to remember that. But I especially wish that for my husband, and I know he does have that strength.

Q -- any hostility toward your husband? There have been many articles lately.

MRS. BUSH: Not really, Helen. (Laughter.)

Q Not you, personally --

MRS. BUSH: I really don't. You know, when I see people, they just say how grateful they are that he's President. And they say to me, you know, he's got to stay the course. And we're very, very proud of him. And that's how I feel.

Thanks everybody. Happy holidays.

END 11:25 A.M. EST

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