- The Washington Times - Tuesday, December 5, 2000

Hillary Rodham Clinton chose a walk down memory lane as the theme for White House decorations this holiday season, her last as first lady.

"There will be a lot of Christmas remembering going on in coming days," Mrs. Clinton said yesterday during the annual photo-op press preview in the State Dining Room.

This year's White House holiday decorations showcase themes used during the Clinton administration's past seven years, including a bevy of angels created in five different artistic media by craftsmen around the country.

The only new item hangs in the Grand Foyer an extra-large, blue-and-white needlepoint kissing ball (with mistletoe attached) created as a gift in the D.C. atelier the Point Of It All, owned by Hyler Hurley of Kensington.

The reprise theme aims to express appreciation for work contributed in past years, said Social Secretary Capricia Marshall, noting that the Reagans did a similar roundup in their last year.

Meanwhile, the first lady said her family has yet to settle on a Washington residence after they leave the mansion on Jan. 20. "Any suggestions I'll be glad to talk about in private," she said.

The first family plans to stay in the mansion over Christmas.

A final round of 26 receptions and parties, which began last night with the Congressional Ball, will continue through Dec. 22 and include up to 20,000 guests to accommodate special requests for invitations, said Mrs. Marshall.

Mrs. Clinton yesterday wore a businesslike charcoal-gray pantsuit and pink turtleneck sweater instead of her usual green and red holiday colors. She had just arrived from New York, where she helped dedicate a courthouse in the name of retiring Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan.

Mrs. Clinton today begins her orientation as the junior senator from New York.

In his traditional gingerbread holiday sculpture, pastry chef Roland Mesnier baked a replica of the mansion's three State Floor rooms that shows versions of his past creations in a miniature State Dining Room. The sleigh on top contains a red apple the popular symbol of New York City.

The official White House Christmas tree, an 18*-foot Douglas fir from Auburn, Pa., is thick with some 900 ornaments over the green velvet tree skirt with handmade emblems contributed from each of the 50 states, District of Columbia and the territories.

Practically the only items on display that will not be sent off to the presidential archives are the fresh pine garlands used throughout the White House and the confectionary mantel a taste of the 1998 "Winter Wonderland" theme re-created fresh this year by New York cake artist Colette Peters, said Mrs. Marshall.

Some pine cones used in past seasons have been recycled with fresh paint and applied in different ways under the direction of White House chief floral designer Nancy Clarke, a 23-year employee.

Performers appearing at holiday functions come from nearly every state. Monday's groups included the Perpetual Motion Suzuki Strings from Darnestown, Md.

The choice of crafts reflects Mrs. Clinton's interest in the field, Mrs. Marshall said, saying the first lady was involved, if only by fax, in planning every step.

Mrs. Clinton's fondness for yellow and gold was apparent as well in the East Room, where outsized gold-painted grapevine angels sat in prominent positions against mirrors on the four fireplace mantels.

This year's official White House Christmas card is a watercolor of the yellow oval room in the first family's residence by artist Ray Ellis. The back of the card reads "Paid for by the Democratic National Committee."

Responding to a question about advice she might give to the next first lady, Mrs. Clinton said "there is no instruction book … . She should do whatever is best for her and her family and not feel she has to do like everybody else did."

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