Thursday, December 23, 2010

A Letter from Michelle Obama & A Stroll Through The White House Decorated for the Holidays

Military Appreciation Tree
Inspired by First Lady Michelle Obama
Photo from

Note: This blog post was prompted by the Happy Holidays from the White House email that arrived in my in box today from First Lady Michelle Obama.

Every year since 1961, when the idea was initiated by First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy, the White House has decorated an official tree with a different theme.  This year's theme is Simple Gifts and from the pictures I've seen of it, it looks really beautiful.

But for Christmas 2010, there is another very extraordinarily beautiful and special tree that -- for the first time -- adorns the White House, inspired by the current First Lady.

The Military Appreciation Tree, which is pictured at the top of this blog post, is decorated elaborately with a Patriotic spirit in red, white, blue, and silver. Draped across the front is a cream colored banner that reads "Gifts of Gratitude and Service."

Decorative details include round white-silver glass balls framing the emblems of the various branches of the U.S. Armed Forces as well as ornaments with representations of the American Flag.  There are also glittering silver dove pendants -- a universal symbol of peace -- sprinkled throughout the tree, along with red and blue swags of ribbons draped upon its branches. 

Accenting these more ornate decorations are graceful, understated glass balls in solid red in various shapes and sizes of rounds, ovals, and teardrops.  Perhaps these garnet colored jewels are suggestive of the blood already shed selflessly and the resulting death toll of service members on Active Duty.  The twinkling lights, though subtle, might serve as a reminder too, this time of the many more service men and women who have been injured in battle. 

Dove of Peace Tree Topper for the Military Appreciation Tree
Photo by James Lutke, the Floral Designer & Artist

Most impressive though is the treetop ornamentation and the uplifting message I think that it evokes.  This larger than life dove with a wing span of 20 inches that crowns the tree was designed and made by Spring Lake, Michigan floral artist James Lutke of natural materials such as flowers and feathers.  Complete with a real olive branch in its mouth, the white bird is almost like an angel as it appears to be swooping down toward us with wings out stretched.  I interpret this as representing our collective wish as a Nation for lasting world peace and our mutual hope that peace is imminent and within sight now.

In the spirit of the season and in support of all five branches of the Armed Forces of the United States of America, visitors to the White House this season can see the Military Appreciation Tree, as well as 18 more, and a variety of other festive decorations.  Alongside the unique and symbolic military-themed tree there's also something else really meaningful going on.  Each visitor has the opportunity to hand write notes that will be delivered to those who are serving our country in the military right now.

But, if you can't make it to Washington, DC, don't worry.  You can still send your own season's greetings and letters of gratitude to our service men and women via the Internet.  All you have to do is complete a form on the White House website.  Your message will then be included with those who got up close to see the White House Military Appreciation Tree and will be sent on to America's service men and women stationed in Iraq, Afghanistan, and other parts of the world.

Watch the First Lady's White House.Gov Video to Learn About This Year's Holiday Celebration

Other decorations of particular note in the Children's Area of the White House holiday display include
  • A giant replica of First Dog Bo, a Portuguese Water Dog, crafted of 40,000 black and white pipe cleaners.
  • A child-sized tree with gingerbread ornaments that were decorated by 300 kids whose parents are now serving on Active Duty.
  • A 350 pound gingerbread White House masterpiece which took a month to make and build.  It is actually white, not brown, in color because it is constructed of gingerbread that has been artfully covered in white chocolate.  The one-of-a-kind gingerbread house is accessorized by replicas of Bo, the family dog, and Mrs. Obama's famous fruit and vegetable garden, both created out of almond paste.
Though not in the White House's Children's Area, the Green Room decor is also worth mentioning.  This room is all about eco-friendly as it is decorated using recycled materials.  This includes several trees and decorations, all crafted from recycled paper, newspapers and magazines.

Now's your chance to weigh in.  What do you think of the White House's holiday decorations this year? What are your own interpretations of their symbolism? If you were First Lady (or First Man) what theme would you choose for a Christmas Tree for our Nation? Leave a comment and share your answers to any of these.  

FTC Disclosure:  As mentioned in this post, I received an email from Michelle Obama.  However, I did not receive payment or any other compensation associated with this post. See complete FTC Disclosure information that appears at the bottom of MommyBlogExpert's main page and at the bottom of every individual post on this blog, including this one.

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