East Room, The White House

We all have our own traditions that make the holidays special—whether it’s decorating the tree together or watching your favorite Christmas movie; the annual family photo by the fireplace; or fishing out that faded, butter-stained recipe that takes you right back to baking with your grandma when you were just a kid.
 
Maybe it goes back generations— connecting you to the family that made you who you are. Maybe it’s a tradition you created with the family you chose— writing a new chapter together. For me, it’s setting our holiday table. My mom used to put out candles and fresh flowers that she found outside—never store-bought. It made every dinner feel special, especially on holidays. We weren’t just sharing a meal, we were sharing our lives— we were feeding our spirits. And every year, as I light candles and arrange the flowers just right, I remember her smile in the firelight. I remember how she turned our table into a sacred circle of love, and I hope I can give my family the same feeling.
 
This season may look different for each of us. The ways we celebrate, the prayers we pray, the customs that define these days—they are as varied as the people who make up this country. But at the core of our traditions are threads that unite us all: faith, family, and friendship; gratitude and service; love for our community. And when it gets difficult—when the pandemic keeps us apart; when we struggle to get by; or feel like the weight of our lives is just too heavy to carry—these constants remind us that we aren’t alone. They heal us and lift our eyes to the future. For all of our differences, we are united by what really matters. Like points on a star, we come together at the heart.
 
That is what I wanted to reflect in our White House this year. In each room, we tell a story of “Gifts from the Heart.”
 
In the East Wing, we see the gift of service—with shooting stars representing the frontline workers who brought light to our lives in the darkest days of the pandemic.
 
In the China Room, we are reminded of how a simple table can become something that’s sacred and special when we come together to break bread in love and friendship.
 
In the Vermeil Room, we honor the visual arts with paint brushes and swatches, a kaleidoscope of color reflecting the breadth of beauty that American artists have given the world.
 
In the Library, we see the gift of learning in butterflies of text—reminding us that with education, we can all transform into something beautiful and soar to new heights. 
 
In the Green Room, the gift of nature brings us respite and restoration. My mom used to say, things will look better in the morning—and she was right. With each new sunrise, the world moves forward, bringing hope with it.
 
In the Blue Room, peace doves adorn a Fraser Fir, each carrying the name of our United States and territories—the unique voices of our country brought together in harmony.
 
In the Red Room, we see the gift of the performing arts—the freedom and joy we find in something as simple as driving with the windows down and the music turned up, or the depth of sorrow and solace we see in a dance without words. 
 
In the East Landing, the Gold Star tree honors the women and men who have laid down their lives for our country and the families who carry on their legacies every day.
 
In the State Dining Room, Christmas trees have become photo albums, documenting the families of this home and reminding us of the love that binds all of our families—whether they were born or blended, chosen or discovered.
 
In the Grand Foyer, floating candles remind us that, though we may worship or pray differently, the light of faith and community shines for us all.
 
Finally, here in the East Room, we see the gift of gratitude—the small acts of grace that are as joyful to give as they are to receive.
 
And that’s why we’re here today: Gratitude for you. You made all of this possible. Thank you for everything you’ve done. In the Christmas story, the magi traveled from afar, each bearing unique and precious gifts. They didn’t know their destination, but they held on to their faith and followed a divine star. There are still challenges ahead for our nation. There will be moments when the answers seem unclear. But we have a guiding light as well. Not a star in the sky, but a divine truth within us: the values that make us who we are, the threads that unite us all, the gifts from the heart. No matter how dark the night, when we turn toward that light, we will never be lost.
 
So, thank you for helping us share these gifts from the heart. Merry Christmas and happy holidays, from our family to yours.

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