The Rotary Club of Dupont Circle was in for a special treat this past Thursday. Thanks to the gracious efforts of the White House's Office of Public Engagement, twenty lucky members and their guests had the opportunity to take a tour of the White House, viewing the wonderful holiday decorations, and getting an inside look at one of the most famous residences in the world.
The theme of the decorations this year was "Shine, Give, Share" - a tribute to the men and women of the armed forces, and the military families that have made sacrifices in the service of the United States. This theme is made heartrendingly clear to visitors as they enter and view the many ( more than 30!) Christmas trees strewn throughout the residence. For example, the Gold Star tree was decorated, not just with the usual ornaments, but with notes and messages from the families of the fallen. Sobering as these reminders of past loss were , the decorations were also reminders that the sacrifices were made in the hope for a better future. The official White House Christmas tree - an 18 foot tall fir located in the Blue Room - featured cards made by military children living on bases around the world.
In many rooms,we saw wonderful pieces of the past: porcelain used by the current and former First Families, photos of past holidays, paintings, furniture and other artifacts. In the state dining room we saw a model of the White House - made of white chocolate and weighing almost 400 lbs. Almost all the rooms had replicas of Bo, the First Dog, standing guard, snoozing, or just watching the masses go by.
The evening had to eventually end, and we had to go back out into the rainy and dark DC night. But there was one more piece of White House magic that we could partake of as we left: as we walked out the very front door of White House, we were serenaded by a live pianist playing holiday tunes on a massive piano adorned with graven bald eagles!
The magic eventually ended and we had to walk out onto the rainy, dark reality of Pennsylvania Ave. But not before a photo right on the threshold. Pics or it didn't happen! We really didn't want to go. After walking out the front door, we hung out on the porch for a couple minutes and more photos!