‘We the People’ at Heart of White House Holiday

    28 November 2022

    First lady Jill Biden has made the idea of "We the People" central to this year's White House holiday decorations.

    The Christmas decorations are said to be designed for "the people" to see themselves. Tree ornaments, mirrors, and simple and complex creations decorate the presidential home.

    The first lady said, "The soul of our nation is, and always has been, ‘We the People.'"

    The White House Christmas Tree is on display in the Blue Room of the White House during a press preview of holiday decorations at the White House, Monday, Nov. 28, 2022, in Washington. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)
    The White House Christmas Tree is on display in the Blue Room of the White House during a press preview of holiday decorations at the White House, Monday, Nov. 28, 2022, in Washington. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

    Public rooms show objects honoring and remembering passed loved ones, words and stories, kindness and thankfulness, food and traditions, and children.

    White house officials said Jill Biden was inspired by people she met while traveling around the country and by the nation's founding documents. They include the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution.

    A copy of the Declaration of Independence is being shown in the White House library, a room for books and reading. And there is a 136-kilogram gingerbread version of the White House. The structure is made of a sweet food, gingerbread. It includes a small version of Independence Hall in Philadelphia, where both founding documents were signed.

    A new addition to the White House collection this year is a menorah. It is a religious piece that is lit nightly during the eight-day Jewish holiday of Hanukkah.

    About 50,000 visitors are expected to pass through the White House to see the decorations. They include visitors to Washington, D.C., and those invited to events to be held in the coming weeks.

    Among the visitors will be French President Emmanuel Macron. He will meet with President Joe Biden at the White House on Thursday. Macron will be honored at a state dinner, the first of the Biden administration.

    More than 150 people, including two of the first lady's sisters, helped decorate the White House during the Thanksgiving holiday weekend.

    The decorations include more than 83,000 lights on trees and other decorations and 77 Christmas trees. Additionally, volunteers used more than 12,000 small decorations, or ornaments, and 4,500 meters of thin cloth, or ribbon.

    "Mirrored ornaments and reflective surfaces ensure that visitors can see themselves...noting that the strength of our country — the Soul of our Nation — comes from ‘We the People,'" administration officials said.

    In the Blue Room, the official White House Christmas tree is decorated to represent unity and hope. It is from Pennsylvania. Handmade representations of the official birds from 57 territories, states, and the District of Columbia decorate the tree.

    The White House noted that the holiday guide book visitors will receive was designed by Daria Peoples-Riley. She is a Black American writer of children's books who lives in Las Vegas, Nevada.

    Peoples-Riley is a former school teacher who works with young children. She has written and illustrated a series of picture books to support children who have experienced race-based harmful events.

    Jill Biden added, "The values that unite us can be found all around you, a belief in possibility, optimism and unity."

    I'm Gregory Stachel.

    Darlene Superville reported this story for The Associated Press. Gregory Stachel adapted it for VOA Learning English.


    Words in This Story

    decoration – n. something that is added to something else to make it more attractive

    ornament – n. a small, fancy object that is put on something else to make it more attractive

    mirror – n. a piece of glass that reflects images

    soul – n. the central or most important part of something that makes it effective, valuable

    inspired – adj. having a particular cause or influence

    reflect v. usually related to light hitting a surface and bouncing off and moving in another direction

    illustrated – v. to explain or decorate a story or book with pictures

    optimism – n. a feeling or belief that good things will happen in the future