The White House
President George W. Bush
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For Immediate Release
Office of the First Lady
November 30, 2005

Mrs. Bush's Remarks at the White House Holiday Press Preview
The State Dining Room


      Holidays at the White House 2005

9:58 A.M. EST

MRS. BUSH: Hello, everyone. Welcome to the White House during the holiday season. This is always a very, very happy time here at the White House. And you can see how magnificent the gingerbread house is this year. Our pastry chef, Thaddeus DuBois, did this gingerbread house. And it's so perfect for this year's decorations. It's so elegant. Thank you very much, again, Thaddeus. It's beautiful.

MR. DUBOIS: You're welcome, ma'am.

MRS. BUSH: Thaddeus is our new pastry chef. This is his second gingerbread house that he's made, his second Christmas season at the White House. And I want to welcome you again and thank you very much for your very good work.

MR. DUBOIS: Thank you.

MRS. BUSH: Isn't it beautiful? Then you can also see in this room the way our tables are done for the buffets. We have these beautiful topiaries and tangerines and lemon leaves, and then the huge tangerine, tulip arrangement.

The theme this year is "All Things Bright and Beautiful." We wanted to use real and fresh flowers and garlands and fruits, and that's what we've done. These are obviously real tangerines. The arrangements are -- the garlands are boxwood garlands. The wreaths in the windows are boxwood wreaths. They're all fresh. You'll see in the next rooms that the flowers on the Christmas trees are fresh flowers, as well.

So we'll move on in just a minute to the Blue Room. Did you all get enough pictures here?

Q Do you have any idea how long these flowers are going to last?

MRS. BUSH: We're going to change them out. We're going to have to change out every few days, and so we'll do that on the trees, which is why at the very top of the trees, we have preserved flowers rather than fresh so we won't have to set up scaffolding every time.

Okay, we'll move on to the next room.

* * * * *

MRS. BUSH: Well, the Christmas tree is always the centerpiece, the big huge Christmas tree that's in the Blue Room, traditionally. We have to remove the chandelier from the Blue Room to be able to put the tree up because it's so large. And this year's tree, as you all know, is from the Deal family in North Carolina. Sleepy* Holler Tree Farm is the name of their tree farm. And now this year, we have it covered with lilies. And these are fresh lilies that you can see here, so the room will smell like pine and lilies. And then the ornaments on the tree are all crystal -- clear crystal ornaments. And I think it's one of the most beautiful Christmas trees I've ever seen with the real lilies on it. Isn't it beautiful?

Q Mrs. Bush -- on holiday tree versus Christmas tree? You have no problem calling this a Christmas tree?

MRS. BUSH: Well, no, not really. At this season we know that Americans celebrate the season in a lot of different ways. We'll have a Hanukkah party, Hanukkah reception here at the White House later during the month. But I think we've always called this the White House Christmas tree. And I think it's particularly beautiful this year with the lilies on it.

Q Mrs. Bush, this year the decorations seem to be simpler.

MRS. BUSH: That's right. They are. Every year, as you know, we've had different themes, and we've had different vignettes. One year we had "All Creatures Great and Small," when we had all the different pets that had lived in the White House. This year, with the theme "All Things Bright and Beautiful," we used natural, real flowers and fruits and garlands to show what -- how beautiful nature is, and how many things we can use from our own gardens or woods during Christmas decorations. And I think -- every year I think it's the prettiest year, but this year I really do think it's the prettiest year. And I think it shows how elegant the White House is. You really get a sense of how beautiful the White House is when you see the frieze in the Cross Hall, for instance, surrounded by the boxwood garland.

Okay, should we go to the next room and we'll talk about the foods.

* * * * *

MRS. BUSH: I want to welcome everyone again to the White House during the Christmas season. It's so beautiful every year. And I think this is an especially beautiful year. Our theme is "All Things Bright and Beautiful," and we used all fresh and real decorations this year. We have boxwood wreaths at the windows, boxwood garlands. And then these trees are decorated with roses, with fresh roses -- fresh and preserved roses up at the top so we don't have to change them out as often. And then the red rose topiaries and the boxwood garlands around the -- around each of the fireplaces.

This is my chance to get to introduce our new chef Cris Comerford. Cris is our new White House chef. She was just hired this -- at the end of the summer this year. And we're so thrilled to have her with us. She did a beautiful job in the really fabulous dinner we had for Prince Charles and Camilla. And now, of course, since then she's been working on all the menus and all the different foods that we'll be serving at all the holiday parties for the next month.

So in a minute all of you are going to get to taste all of Cris's foods. But I wanted to point out the way we decorated in here with the pears -- the pear collars on the cache-pots and the pink tulips. Everything, again, is fresh and real.

And now I also want to introduce you to our artists who have helped us so much -- always Nancy Clarke. Nancy Clarke has been here since 1981. She's the chief White House florist. She's the one I work with every holiday to make sure things are beautiful, and she's really the one who's responsible for how beautiful the White House is every year. And especially this year I think it's so pretty.

MS. CLARKE: It's my pleasure.

MRS. BUSH: Thank you very much, Nancy.

Thaddeus DuBois is the pastry chef, and you saw in the other room -- and you'll get to see it again for more photographs -- the gingerbread house that he's done. He's also new to the White House. This is his second gingerbread house, and you'll see how elegant and beautiful it is -- snow-covered trees. And this year he painstakingly did all of the beautiful trim that the White House really has outside, he put on the gingerbread house. So I hope you'll have a chance to get some close-up photographs of it.

Thank you again, Thaddeus.

Donna Green is a children's book illustrator. And she did "All Things Bright and Beautiful," the wonderful brochure that all of our guests will receive. Everyone who comes on a tour here over the holiday season -- and we expect about 44,000 people to tour the White House during the holiday season, not including our guests who will come for the parties, as well -- and they'll receive this brochure that talks about the White House decorations this year. And it's illustrated with Donna's really beautiful illustrations. Thank you very much, Donna.

You can find her other books in the bookstores, as well, that she's either written or written and illustrated for children. So thank you very much.

You want to come over here? Our Christmas card which is already in the mail -- I don't know if any of you have received the Christmas card yet, but it was illustrated by, or painted by Jamie Wyeth. All of you know Jamie. He's a very renowned American painter. And I think this is just as elegant as the decorations are this year. It's the south portico of the White House covered with snow. This is the big magnolia tree for "All Things Bright and Beautiful," planted during the term of Andrew Jackson, that's out on the South Lawn -- I think it's the oldest tree that we have at the White House -- covered with snow. And of course, Barney and Beazley and our kitty made an appearance on the card. - Jamie, thank you very, very much. It's absolutely beautiful. Appreciate it very much.

Lea Berman, our social secretary, and Gary Walters, chief usher, always work very hard on every event that we have at the White House. And certainly, Lea will be especially busy during this month. Gary goes to shop for the Christmas trees themselves. He's the one that helped pick out with the Deal family the magnificent tree that we have in the Blue Room that's covered with lilies this year. So I want to thank every person who is so important to the decorations of the White House. And I want to wish all of your viewers and readers a very, very happy holiday.

Thank you all so much for coming.

END 10:07 A.M. EST

*Smokey Holler

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