(WASHINGTON) – First Lady Jill Biden unveiled the White House holiday decorations on Monday and announced her theme for the 2021 season as ‘Gifts from the Heart,’ intended to honor those who have survived the hardships brought on by the pandemic of COVID-19.
“The things we hold sacred unite us and transcend distance, time and even the constraints of a pandemic: faith, family and friendship; a love of the arts, learning and nature; gratitude, service and community; unity and peace. These are the gifts that bind the cords of the heart of our lives. These are the gifts of the heart, ”the Bidens wrote in a letter explaining the theme of a commemorative White House holiday guide.
“As we celebrate our first holiday season at the White House, we are inspired by Americans we have met across the country, reminding us time and time again that our differences are precious and our similarities endless,” said the first lady and president. “We wish you a happy, healthy and joyful holiday season. As we look forward to a new year full of possibilities, may the gifts of the heart light our way forward. “
It took about 25 wreaths, 41 Christmas trees, 300 candles, 6,000 feet of ribbon, 10,000 ornaments and nearly 80,000 Christmas lights to spruce up the White House for the holiday season. More than 100 volunteers worked on the decorations, according to the first lady’s office. While in the past, volunteers came from all over the country, they were limited to surrounding areas this year due to concerns over COVID-19.
Officials said the theme is portrayed in each piece “with some sort of element from another theme, a sub-theme, if you will.”
Inside the Blue Room, which represents the “Gift of Peace and Unity,” is the official White House Christmas tree. The room’s iconic chandelier has been temporarily removed to display the 18.5-foot Fraser Fir from Jefferson, North Carolina, which the first lady hosted last week.
“Cascading down the tree, the doves of peace carry a shimmering banner embossed with the names of every state and territory in the United States, reminding us all of the importance of national unity and harmony.” , said the White House.
Pictures of the Trumps, Obamas, Bushes, Reagans and Carters also hang on the tree, in addition to pictures of the Bidens, their children, grandchildren and dogs, Champ and Major.
Inside the State Dining Room, Christmas stockings hang over the fireplace mantel for each of the Biden grandchildren, marked with their names.
The Gingerbread White House, which the White House says was “inspired by our gratitude and admiration for the frontline workers in our nation who have brought our country through the global pandemic, often in a big way. danger to themselves and their families, “honors nurses, doctors, post and grocery store workers, to name a few, and is complete with a gingerbread school teacher , depicting the first lady who is a longtime community college teacher, smiling and standing next to a gingerbread school.
Also on display is Bidens’ Christmas card, signed “Joe” and “Jill,” which includes a keepsake for those who lost their lives this year due to COVID-19.
A drawing of a candle on the back of the card includes the words: “In remembrance of all Americans who have lost their lives to COVID-19 and in recognition of essential and frontline workers, first responders and our military personnel and their families. “
As she did when she hosted the White House Christmas tree last week, the first lady was again joined Monday afternoon by the National Guard family – the Harrells – to honor those who spend the holiday season apart.
To this end, a gold star tree honoring service members who have died in the line of duty, as well as their families who carry on their legacy, is on display at the Eastern Landing.
The first lady hosted a sophomore class from a Maryland elementary school to help unveil the decorations on Monday.
Children wore masks and bracelets to indicate they had been tested for COVID-19, and the first lady read her 2012 children’s book, “Remember, God Bless Our Troops.” PBS Kids hosted a holiday puppet show to mark the festive occasion, and the kids appeared stunned during a Kraft Brothers performance.
She also thanked the volunteers who decorated the house for the holidays in brief remarks.
“When the pandemic pulls us apart – as I know how this year has really struggled to get by – or when we feel the weight of our lives is just too heavy to bear, these constants keep us going. remind us that they feel us and lift our eyes to the future, ”she said of the theme.
“For all of our differences, we are united by what really matters, like the dots on a star that we meet at the heart. That’s what I wanted to reflect in our White House this year, ”Biden added, sending a kiss to the volunteers.
Earlier, inside the East Wing, the United States Marine Corps’ own presidential band played an assortment of holiday songs amid an assortment of big red packets.
Planning for the holiday decorations began in late May, and the first lady was “very involved” in the process, according to her communications director Elizabeth Alexander.
Social Secretary Carlos Elizondo said the White House didn’t have too many issues with the supply chain, “but there were some things that were backed up,” like some of the topiaries, he said.
With public tours on hiatus due to the pandemic, the White House has said it will stay tuned for interactive ways to view the decorations on social media and other platforms.
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