Archive for Tuesday, December 5, 2000

White House reflects on holidays past

December 5, 2000


— There's no Santa sitting in the sleigh atop the more than 250-pound gingerbread replica of the executive mansion that is a featured attraction of room-after-room of holiday decorations at the White House this year.

Mindful that first lady Hillary Rodham Clinton is bound for the Senate, White House pastry chef Roland Mesnier decided the reindeer should be pulling, instead of Santa, a shiny red New York apple.

"It smells so good," Clinton, the senator-elect from New York, said Friday as she poked her nose into the gingerbread house, which has a tiny likeness of President Lincoln hanging over a tiny mantel. It also has miniature figures of Buddy and Socks, the Clintons' dog and cat.

The house contains 150 pounds of gingerbread, more than 25 pounds of marzipan, more than 60 pounds of chocolate and 15 pounds of sugar.

This year's holiday theme at the Clinton White House, "Holiday Reflections," is reminiscent of the past seven themes: winter wonderland in 1998, "'Twas the Night Before Christmas" in 1995, angels in 1993 and so on.

Angels, trimmed in gold and yellow, rest in the boughs of a Christmas tree in the Vermeil Room, also known as the first ladies room.

"In 1993, the Clintons' first Christmas, Chelsea was really very fond of angels, so they went with angels for the holiday theme," White House social secretary Capricia Marshall said as she looked at the tree flanked by full-length portraits of Jackie Kennedy Onassis and Nancy Reagan.

Altogether, 34 decorated Christmas trees are in the White House and another 10 are outside. There are 220 poinsettias, 1,071 bows and 50,000 lights. Garland 1,120 feet of it adorns chandeliers, columns, candleholders, centerpieces and colonnades.

The aroma of fresh pine filled the air as Clinton gave a reception to show off the decorations, including 12,751 lights and ornaments on the official White House Christmas tree in the Blue Room, an 18 1/2 foot Douglas fir from Auburn, Pa.

This year's White House Christmas card depicts a watercolor of the Yellow Oval Room in the first family's living quarters by artist Ray Ellis.

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