I just spent five very special days decorating the White House for the holidays. My body aches from the intense schedule but the experience is one I will never forget. I joined forces with about eighty other volunteers from all across the country to transform the White House into a holiday wonderland. This is a team of wonderful caring people from all backgrounds; new friends I’ve made that will last a lifetime. Many hearts and minds were changed by sharing my family story with my new White House friends.
The White House holiday theme this year is “Gather Around”. The theme is noted in special decorations in every room including the room in which I worked: the Blue Room. The official White House tree is located in the Blue Room. The tree stands eighteen and a half feet tall and is about twelve feet wide. Our team spent three days hanging thousands of ornaments on this massive tree. I spent the majority of my time in the Blue Room atop scaffolding attaching each ornament by wrapping wire around the bough. The work was intense and we had a short period of time to make sure all the ornaments were securely attached to the tree.
Before going to Washington, DC to start the decorating, I made a very special ornament to take with me. I hoped the staff would consider hanging my ornament on any one of the trees in the White House. The ornament is made of red, white, and blue buttons and has a small photo of my family; my husband and me, our 7 year old daughter and 7 month old son. The day we entered the White House to begin work, I brought my ornament in hopes of it being approved to hang on a tree. Much to my surprise, my ornament was approved to hang on the official White House tree in the Blue Room. I was directed to hang my ornament at eye level, front and center on this massive tree that I had been working so hard to decorate.
I was very honored to be a part of the holiday White House decorating process but I was emotionally touched when I was permitted to hang my family’s ornament on the official White House tree in the Blue Room. The ornament is very visible and will be seen by everyone who enters the room. It was then I realized that we really have come a long way. Just a few years ago it would have been unthinkable to have a picture of two married men and their children featured on an ornament in the center of the White House Christmas tree. Change really has come to America! Being accepted and acknowledged by the staff of the White House as guided by the President and First Lady feels great. I am honored to be part of this, to not only be included in special White House traditions, but to also be honored in such a special way.