The First Lady and First Daughters are presented with the White House Christmas Tree, which will be displayed in the Blue Room of the White House.
The history of the current tradition of displaying a White House Christmas in the Blue Room tree dates back to 1961 with President and First Lady Kennedy. Since then, the theme of the White House Christmas tree has been chosen by the First Lady. Trees are selected from all of the country to be the official White House Christmas tree. This year’s tree is a Douglass fir from the Lehigh Valley in Pennsylvania.
In 1902, the White House did not have a Christmas tree for a very good reason. President Teddy Roosevelt forgot to order one by December 23. The New York Times reported that Mrs. Roosevelt would follow, “last year’s plan” of putting the presents in the library, letting the children in the room, where their mother would act as the “distributing agent.” (Nothing says holiday cheer like gathering in the library on Christmas morning and having a distributing agent hand out gifts.)
The more some things change the more they stay the same though, as the Times also reported that gifts were arriving fast at the White House, and it was expected that there would be a rapid procession of express wagons at the White House the next day. The express wagon was the 1902 Christmas equivalent of Amazon Prime.
Washington’s gridlocked, snail-like pace will be slower than usual as the arrival of this beautiful tree marks the beginning of Congress watching the clock like 4th graders on a December afternoon, anxiously awaiting the start of Christmas vacation.