Traditions

Michelle's Holiday Decor Reflects Green Values

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Each U.S. first lady brought her own touch and philosophy when decorating the White House at Christmas time. In this excerpt from "Christmas With the First Ladies," Coleen Christian Burke looks at Michelle Obama's approach in 2009.



WASHINGTON (WOMENSENEWS)--Barack Obama, a freshman senator from Illinois, rose on a remarkable political trajectory that brought him, and his wife, Michelle, to the White House in 2009. With them came their daughters--Malia, age 11, and Sasha, age 9--and "grandmother-in-chief" Marian Robinson, the president's mother-in-law.

Just four years before, home was a condominium in Chicago's East Park View community. Now they welcomed Christmas in their newest home, the White House. Christmas at the White House was one of Mrs. Obama's favorite experiences that year. And since she had never visited 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue during the holidays, it was completely new to her.

She wanted to share the White House Christmas magic with as many people as possible. Like Barbara Bush before her, she believed the White House was the People's House, and planned Christmas accordingly.

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For Christmas 2009, Mrs. Obama chose the theme "Reflect. Rejoice. Renew." She explained the theme was actually a long-standing tradition for her and the president.

Over the years, their commitment to reflect, rejoice and renew brought the Obama family strength and joy. Now Mrs. Obama chose her own family's theme as the holiday theme for the country, and she hoped it would reap the same positive benefits that her own family did.

There were important considerations that she took into account for the holiday planning. A proponent of healthy eating, the first lady took great pride and pleasure in the White House garden, which her family had planted with the help of schoolchildren from a local elementary school. Mrs. Obama wanted to find a way to bring the goodness of the garden into the holiday decorations.

She also wished to find innovative ways to reuse existing ornaments. She turned to Simon Doonan, the creative director at Barneys department store in New York City, to execute her 2009 vision.

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