It’s that time of year again. On Monday, I walked through the White House gates for the First Lady’s Christmas decoration reveal. An annual White House press tradition, filled with history, holiday songs, and thousands of sparkling lights.

The grand entrance at the East Wing Lobby opened with “We the People” holiday experience with bells and the band playing. The first set of blue, red, and silver trees on display, honor the Gold Star Families with inscribed names of fallen service members. The golden star of Sgt. Daniel R. Gionet, who lost his life in Baghdad during the war in Iraq, caught my attention.

East Wing Lobby: inscribed names of the fallen service member Sgt. Daniel R. Gionet [Photo: Pavlovic Today ]
East Wing Lobby: inscribed names of the fallen service member Sgt. Daniel R. Gionet [Photo: Pavlovic Today]

Holidays at the White House are an odd mix of sorrow and joy, an invitation to reflect on one’s life and, at the same time to press forward.

East Colonnade [Photo: The Pavlovic Today ]

Walking through the East Colonnade evoked a tranquil, snowy experience, with glowing lanterns hanging from the ceiling. I thought of Melania’s dramatic red crimson topiary trees in 2018 and how in retrospect, the artistic symbolism made a lot of sense as a transition from the Gold Star Families trees, where red symbolizes the color of the soldiers’ blood and also the blood of Jesus Christ.

Decorating the People’s House for Christmas has always been the responsibility of the first ladies, and it has been interesting to observe how each of them has the unique style. It is also noticeable how the press crucified First Lady Melania Trump each year she revealed her Christmas decorations. Melania’s holiday messaging was subliminal. Jill’s is instantaneous, mainly by sound.

In the Library Room, I noticed a copy of the Declaration of Independence that was donated to the White House in 1985. 

The Library Room [Photo: The Pavlovic Today]

May the promise of We the People light our path forward into the New Year and bring us together always.

Joe and Jill Biden
Holiday season at the White House. President Biden in front of the fire place. [ ©Twitter/POTUS]

The Vermeil Room illuminated the spirit of kindness and gratitude with the cardboard illustrations of the Biden’s dogs Commander and Willow.  The repetitive cardboard animal decorations throughout the White House are striking, but due to the live music, the attention does not go to them. It’s only after the fact, that you would start to experience an awkward feeling of vacantness.

The Vermeil Room [Photo: The Pavlovic Today]

The China Room, first formalized in 1917 by First lady Edith Wilson,  opened its doors this year with the reminder of family traditions. Christmas trees decorated with wooden spoons, rolling pins and treats from granny’s kitchen. The well-worn recipes displayed throughout the room serve as a testament to American food traditions.   

East Room was this year transformed into elements of American nature, from the Rocky Mountains to the Great Lakes to trees covered with fake snow. Jill Biden is celebrating four national parks: The Grand Canyon, Yellowstone National Park, the Great Smoky Mountains, and Shenandoah National Park.

Red Room was filled with towers of candles and glowing stained-glass windows.A Red Room tradition since 1975, fresh cranberries are part of the room’s holiday display. Also featured this year are orchids, one of the First Lady’s favorite flowers.

The Red Room [ Photo: The White House ]

At the State Dining Room, the gingerbread replica of the White House was made of 20 sheets of sugar cookie dough, 30 sheets of gingerbread dough, 100 pounds of pastillage, 30 pounds of chocolate, and 40 pounds of royal icing.

Editor in Chief of The Pavlovic Today, Ksenija Pavlovic McAteer at the White House [ Photo: The Pavlovic Today]

The Grand Foyer and Cross Hall reinforced once again Jill Biden’s holiday message “We the People.” The white Obama’s portrait was hanging on the wall.

Portrait of former President Barack Obama [ Photo: The Pavlovic Today ]

“When our country comes together, we are stronger. What we share is so much greater than the things that pull us apart. The Soul of our Nation is—and always has been—“We the People.” And that is what inspired this year’s White House holiday decorations,” said First Lady Jill Biden during the official reveal.

“Take some cider,” a US Marine told me on my way out. This year we did not get the chocolates.


Ksenija Pavlovic McAteer

Ksenija Pavlovic is the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of the Pavlovic Today, The Chief White House Correspondent. Pavlovic was a Teaching Fellow and Doctoral Fellow in the Political Science department...

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