First families share stories of drunken santas, decorations and the famous gingerbread house By Helen Pow and Meghan Keneally Christmas crossed partisan and generational divides in a new Christmas special where five former First Ladies and a host of former first children all sat down to talk about the holiday season in the White House. [...]

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Christmas at the White House

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First families share stories of drunken santas, decorations and the famous gingerbread house

By Helen Pow and Meghan Keneally

Christmas crossed partisan and generational divides in a new Christmas special where five former First Ladies and a host of former first children all sat down to talk about the holiday season in the White House.
Jenna Bush Hager talked about how she loved having Mexican food for their holiday meal, and Amy Carter said a highlight for her was when the annual theme turned to Victorian dolls which she loved as a child.
Barbara Bush talked about how the man who dressed up as Santa may have dabbled in the eggnog.
‘Do you remember the Santa that Gampy found?’ she said to her daughter Dorothy Bush Koch, referring to her husband by their family nickname.

This year the gingerbread house has a new recipe that makes the icing look more like cement, features electronically-lit chandeliers inside and the the Obama’s dog Bo sitting outside

‘He was drunk every year. The kids couldn’t tell the difference, we had an inkling.’For the first time, these former hostesses-in-chief and their children have come together to share their memories of Christmas at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, in NBC’s holiday special, ‘A White House Christmas.’

And more than a few former first children have confessed to sneaking a taste of the White House’s ever-famous gingerbread house during the time they called the residence home.

‘Sometimes we did sneak down the night before,’ Hillary Clinton admits in the programme, referring to the impressive array of decorations that are painstakingly put together each year at the famous address.
But her daughter, Chelsea, quickly corrects her: ‘Often we snuck down the night before.’ Apparently the White House staff caught on to their predilections, as Hillary said that they started ‘locking the dining room doors!’

Tricia Cox Nixon also loved the tradition of having a gingerbread house among the decorations, as it was her mother First Lady Pat Nixon who started the trend.

‘That was a high point because who doesn’t feel young at heart in the presence of a beautiful gingerbread house?’ she said.

The current First Lady said she adored the smells and sounds that flow through the halls at this time of year, as well as the many visitors that come to enjoy the decorations.Like her predecessors, Michelle Obama is ‘hostess-in-chief’ when it comes to the holidays, and started working on this year’s theme months in advance.

After applying to the White House from all over the country, around 100 volunteers are chosen to travel to Washington to create the magic that thousands upon thousands of visitors enjoy.

In all, 13 public rooms, each with its own tree, are decorated and the exterior of the White House is given the same treatment. First children we don’t hear from much, including Amy Carter, are included in the special, giving their own unique take on what Christmas was like for them as a child in the White House. Sitting next to her mother, Amy, who was nine-year-old when she spent her first Christmas there, confesses to a secret she may have been keeping for many years. ‘I think I probably broke a piece off from the back (of the gingerbread house),’ she told NBC.

Meanwhile, Jenna Bush points the finger at her sister, Barbara. ‘Barbara actually would take the little things off the gingerbread houses,’ she lets slip, to which her twin quickly retorts: ‘That is so not true.’

Daily Mail, London




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