I was so honored and excited to have attended the White House Holiday Open House Tweetup, which was held yesterday. The tweetup included a morning briefing by White House officials and concluded with an afternoon tour of the White House holiday decorations. It was nothing less than a dream come true for me.
For the most part, I have refrained from sharing my political voice on my blog, but along with this post, I do want to open up a bit about my political story. As many of you already know, I’m a Texas girl. I grew up in a staunchly Republican family and voted Republican most of my adult life. During the 2008 Presidential primaries, my (staunchly non-Republican) husband told my family, “Barack Obama is going to be the next President of the United States. Just watch.” We studied President Obama’s campaign very closely; watched every debate; stayed up to see the results of every state primary. As President Obama’s message grew, so did our support. We volunteered for his campaign, stood in long lines to see him speak in person, and even hosted a watch party on election night. Throughout the years of his Presidency, our support has only grown. It had been my and my husband’s dream to visit the White House during the Obama administration, and our dream came true in the form of the White House Tweetup!
The Tweetup kicked off in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, where the 150 participants were briefed by White House Officials on various topics including the First Lady’s initiatives, the advancement of technology & social media in the White House, the economy, the ways in which the administration is honoring and supporting our troops, holidays at the White House, and even the President’s favorite dessert!
Kori Schulman - Deputy Director of Online Outreach in the Office of Digital Strategy @ks44
Tina Tchen, Assistant to the President and Chief of Staff to the First Lady
Brad Cooper, Executive Director of Joining Forces @joiningforces
Macon Phillips, Special Assistant to the President and Director of Digital Strategy @macon44
David Kamin, Special Assistant to the President for Economic Policy
Aneesh Chopra, Assistant to the President for Technology and US Chief Technology Officer @aneeshchopra
Bill Yosses, White House Pastry Chef (left) and Laura Dowling, White House Florist (right)
Jon Carson, Deputy Assistant to the President and Director of the Office of Public Engagement @joncarson44
There was (naturally) a lot of this going on, and not only was it going on, but it was encouraged!
After the briefing and Q&A concluded, we took a break for lunch, and then returned for the holiday tour. I was giddy with excitement. This year’s theme is “Shine, Give, Share.” Upon entering the White House, we were immediately met with this stunning “Gold Star Family Tree,” which pays tribute to those who lost their lives serving our country. There was a table set up next to the tree where you could write personal messages to be delivered to the troops.
One of the common threads woven through the White House holiday decor was none other than Bo Obama. Bo has a special little place in our hearts. He reminds us a lot of our dog, Charlie, who we adopted in late 2007. When we adopted Charlie, he was already an old man. He had a heart condition and several tumors, but my husband and I were determined to spoil him through the end of his life. He had big brown eyes, curly black hair, and a little tuft of white hair on his chest, just like Bo. Charlie died in 2010, but he didn’t leave this world without doing a little campaigning of his own (if you lived in Clarendon in 2008, you probably saw Charlie walking the neighborhood in his own Obama gear):
The Bo Obama sightings sprinkled throughout the holiday decorations gave us little glimpses of our own sweet Charlie. You can watch more about the Bo’s holiday presence here.)
One element of the decor that my photographs do not convey is the scent of the fresh pine garland strung throughout the White House. In every room, from walls to ceilings to columns to door and window frames, the fresh pine garland gave the White House the natural scent of a full pine forest.
The White House flowers were lovely. The arrangement below, with a vase constructed of berries, was my particular favorite. Keep in mind, this was just one of several dozen floral arrangements. The craftsmanship was superb.
One of the most impressive elements of the decor was the 400 pound gingerbread house, covered in white chocolate, and constructed (to scale) to reflect each room of the White House. The entire house is edible except for the wires which power the gingerbread house with lights!
I was so moved yesterday that I’m planning on applying as a volunteer to help decorate the White House for 2012. Thank you, Mr. and Mrs. Obama, for allowing us into your home this holiday season. Also, a big thank you to the White House staff for making the holiday tweetup happen.
(P.S. I realize the President is quite busy with the Payroll Tax Cut and such, but I would be honored if this little blog post of mine made it to his desk. In the meantime, we’ll just keep donating in hopes of a dinner with the President.)