My daughter Daena was invited to a White House Christmas reception last night and got to bring a guest, which I’m happy to report was me!
The theme of this year’s WH Christmas decorations and parties is “Holiday in the National Parks,” because, as the keepsake brochure states, “From breathtaking landscapes to important historical sites, generations have marveled at God’s magnificent creation and cherished memories of visits to these special places.” Did you know the WH is a national park?
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See more photos on page 2.


So that it was snowing made the evening even more special. The event was held in the East Wing. Here was the view inside the WH compound walking toward that entrance:
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As soon as we checked our coats we were ushered quickly and efficiently through President and Mrs. Bush’s receiving line for a photo with them. We didn’t even have time to think, which was good. We each shook his hand. He asked me where I was from, and I’m glad I could remember. I won’t get that photo for awhile, but we took plenty others in the meantime. Here’s me in the Blue Room:
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In the Entrance Hall a military band beautifully played Christmas songs all evening ranging from hymns to the Home Alone theme:
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The buffet carried out the National Parks and Americana theme, including Bourbon-Glazed Virginia Ham with Cheesy Stone-Ground Grits, Fruitwood Smoked Copper River Salmon with Fresh Potato Pancakes, Maryland Crab Cakes with Lemon Caper Sauce, Chilled Gulf Shrimp Cocktail, Roasted Lamb Chops with Rosemary Sea Salt and Mission Fig Chutney, and An Assortment of Artisanal and Local Cheeses, which I thought was the best:
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The desserts likewise carried out the National Parks theme: Decorated Animal Cookies (Grizzly Bear, Elk, Fox, Wolf, Eagle, Mountain Lion, Moose, Road Runer, Buffalo, Coyote Deer), Park Trees and Leaves Cookies (Gold Magnolia Leaf, Pine Cone, Acorn, Oak Leaf, Aspen Leaf, Elm Leaf), Maple Cookies, Park Service Indian Head Cookies, Chocolate Mice, Log Cabin Cake, Lemon Meringue Sequoia Cake Tree, Coconut Cake with Seven-Minute Frosting, Yule Log, Brioche Bread Pudding, Walnut Pound Dundee Cake, Gingerbread Crown Cake, Mackintosh Apple and Sun-Dried Cherry Cobbler, Long-Stemmed Fresh Strawberries, and Chocolate Truffles with Forest Flavors (Honey, Maple, Huckleberry).
As I was trying to pick up one of the latter, it slipped out of the dainty tongs and rolled on to the floor. I told the wait staff I reminded myself of Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman and her flying escargot….
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The white chocolate WH:
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The latest WH draperies are beautiful, majestic. In remodelings past, I’ve thought they sometimes looked tacky. Here are some, first in the Blue Room, then the Red Room, then the Entrance Hall:

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Daena in the Blue Room:
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View outside:
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The historic portraits in the WH – of presidents, wives, and Americana – are priceless, and they’re everywhere:
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The official WH Christmas tree was perfectly suited for display in the elliptical Blue Room. American artisans painted about 350 ornaments depicting “national parks, memorials, seashores, historic sites and monuments”:
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Cross Hall:
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Mural of Grand Canyon in Cross Hall:
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We were so high spirited upon leaving (which was swift; military ushers made it politely clear the party was over at 8p)…
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… we decided to walk to Daena’s apartment, rather than catch a cab. Big mistake. The wet snowfall and slushy sidewalks got the best of us…
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But still, the Decorated Animal Cookies a WH chef said were perfectly fine for me to take home to my grandsons made it home dry, if not intact… :)
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