- The Washington Times - Wednesday, December 25, 2013

The first lady is the commander in chief of Christmas decorating, the author of “Christmas with the First Ladies” said Wednesday on CNN.

“If you follow her vision, you’ll see her personality and what she wants the experience to be for the American public,” Coleen Christian Burke said.

Michelle Obama’s theme for this Christmas is “Gather Around.”

“It celebrates the stories and traditions that bring us together this special time of year,” it says on the White House website. “The holidays serve as an opportunity to recall our Nation’s journey, reflect on our blessings, and to remember those who serve and sacrifice for our freedoms.”

Mrs. Obama tends to gravitate to simply stated themes, Ms. Burke said. In 2012, the theme was “Joy to All” and in 2011, it was “Shine. Give Share.”

The fact that the White House is more than just an office building becomes especially obvious when the house is trimmed for the holidays, Ms. Burke said.

“This is a place where people actually live; you really get a sense of it being a home for our first families,” she said.

Every year, the decorations are different. For example, under former first lady Barbara Bush, there were 49 trees in the White House, while under former first ladies Hillary Clinton and Nancy Reagan, live trees in the White House had to be limited since both of their husbands were allergic.

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