First Lady Laura Bush hosted the preview of holiday decorations for the press on November 30th. and it was hard to escape a feeling that there was not a lot of holiday joy evident in the White House, despite its holiday garb.
After greeting the reporters in East Room, Mrs. Bush introduced and thanked to fine artists, white house staffs and chefs for their excellent contributions. First Lady Laura Bush told reporters that the White House Red Room was the inspiration for the 2006 holiday theme - "Deck the Halls and Welcome All."
Almost 300 wreaths are on display, in addition to poinsettias, topiaries and a variety of garlands adorned with red and silver Christmas balls.
The official White House Christmas tree , presented by Botek family from Pennsylvania, is in the center of the Blue Room. The decorations were generic red, green and silver balls and icicles, stars and beads with tufts of cotton to represent snow. The usual presents under the tree were missing.
The creation of an edible master piece of traditional 300 pound gingerbread which was designed by White House patry chef Roland Mesnier is displayed in the State Dining Room.
Although the decor is classic, the White House's holiday menu will feature both traditional and "not so traditonal" American cuisine, said chef Cristeta Comerford. The reception menu included; golden and crimson beet salad with orange, fennel and feta; sweet potato souffle; herb roasted lollipop lamb chops and chicken fried beef tenderloin with white onion gravy.
Mrs. Bush's first secretary Ms. Susan Whitson said, "There will be 24 holiday parties till December 20th and this is the first one."
When VOA raised question on Mrs. Bush's interest in her husband's effort to promote democracy around the world including Burma, Ms. Susan Whitson responded candidly;
"Mrs. Bush follows very closely to the plight of the people in Burma. She is very very supportive of Aung San Suu Kyi and very much as you may recall at United Nations General Assembly in September. Actually the roundtable helped raised awareness of the plight of people of Burma. And continue to speak on the behalf of the Burmese people and try of raise awareness, so that one day we could see democracy where people go to the polls and vote in Burma, including hopefully Aung San Suu Kyi herself".