East Room, The White House
1:26 P.M. EST
THE FIRST LADY: Isn’t this, like, amazing? Amazing!
So, several years ago, here in our nation’s capital, one of the finest violinists in the world, Joshua Bell, played at a busy metro station during the morning rush hour. It was part of an experiment to see what would happen or to see if anyone would notice.
Hundreds of commuters rushed by, absorbed in their busyness of their daily lives, oblivious to the beauty floating in the air around them.
But time and time again, one particular group noticed, arching their necks, suddenly captivated in surprise as they heard the music. This group consistently wandered over to the violinist, delighting in the beauty pouring from his strings.
Any idea who it was? Children. That’s exactly right.
Children are unbound by time and inherently know beauty: the rich, colorful mosaic of autumn leaves piled high on an emerald blanket of grass; the mesmerizing rhythm of soft, powdery snow as it falls from a glistening night sky; the gorgeous sound of an extraordinary violinist.
It’s this childlike marvel and awe that inspired this year’s holiday theme: the “Magic, Wonder, and Joy” of the season.
Each room is designed to capture this pure, unfiltered delight and imagination, to see, you know, the — this season, this time of year through the wondrous, sparkling eyes of children.
As guests enter the East Wing, they walk underneath the branches — wasn’t that, like, so amazing? (Applause and laughter.)
You know, when Joe and I saw that last night, I mean, we were just, like, mesmerized — (laughter) — you know, to see that Christmas tree. And I’m sure — and the press saw it earlier this morning.
That pierces through the façade of the East Wing. And, you know, it’s as if they were children again. They gaze up in wonder, like we did, at the twinkling lights and feel the soft pine needles above.
The first Christmas tree featured inside the White House is adorned with Gold Star ornaments, and they are engraved with the names of the fallen service members. This Gold Star tree honors the heroic — I know it’s so emotional for those of you who did it; I know there were so many Gold Star families who helped with that tree — you know, the heroic men and women of our nation’s military, those who have laid down their lives for our country, and the families who carry on their legacies.
May God bless our troops and their families. (Applause.) Yes.
The East Colonnade greets guests with the sweet treats of the season floating above their heads, reminding children and families of the delicious flavors of the holidays.
Lining the marble arches of the Ground Floor Corridor are holiday messages from Americans across this country. Letters to Santa Claus magically fly in and out of vintage mailboxes, ready to be sent to the North Pole with a stamp and a wish.
In the Library, guests are transported to the nostalgic bedtime stories of holidays past and present as Santa rides by the window on his sleigh.
In the Vermeil Room, we celebrate the joy that music and merriment bring us during the holidays, like the one — the sounds you heard from the band here.
In the China Room, a sweet shop with baking ingredients and cooking supplies reminds us of familiar recipes that bring generations of families together year after year during this season.
In the East Room, the joyful anticipation of the holidays is front and center with Advent calendars counting down the days of Christmas. And each door will reveal a surprise for children of all ages to enjoy. Be sure to follow along on my FLOTUS channels on Facebook, Instagram, X, and Threads to see each day’s moment of magic, wonder, and joy.
In the Green Room, we honor the peace and strength that we find in faith. It’s often in quiet, candlelit rooms when we can see most clearly, center ourselves, and embrace the wonder of the world around us.
The Blue Room behind me features the official White House Christmas tree, a stunning creation covered in holiday cheer from across the country. And I’m sure you all walked in, and the first thing you did was look for your state, right? (Laughter.) I did the same thing.
So, a vintage passenger train weaves around the tree’s base. I know the kids are just going to love it when they visit.
The Red Room is filled with our favorite holiday crafts, reminding guests of the limitless reaches of their imaginations. And to honor our military families, the ornaments in the Red Room were made from the handprints and the family portraits of military-connected children. Yes, let’s clap for them too. (Applause.)
In the Cross Hall right over there, we have the official White House menorah, created last year by our White House carpenters, who are so special, using reclaimed wood from the beams of this house saved from when President Truman — honestly, don’t miss it — you know, renovated it over 70 years ago.
And finally, in the State Dining Room, the magic, wonder, and the joy of the holidays all come together in a recre- — a recreation of Santa’s Workshop.
Throughout the house, we pay tribute to the 200th anniversary of the publication of “‘Twas the Night Before Christmas” — (laughter) — a poem etched so deeply into so many of our childhood memories. We worked with the Library of Congress to bring a sampling of editions from the last 200 years here to the White House.
You’ll also notice that this year’s gingerbread house — have y’all seen it?
AUDIENCE MEMBERS: Yes.
THE FIRST LADY: Oh, my God. Susie, like — did, like, such an amazing job and all her volunteers. It recreates — it creates the classic tale.
And in the Grand Foyer, where we are right now, Santa and his reindeer fly through the air. And I — I’m amazed. It was — they were made from papier-mâché. I mean, they’re so — it’s just so cool. And it’s like they’re leaping from the storybook’s pages.
I don’t know how you feel, but I feel it’s just breathtaking. (Applause.) Thank you.
The holidays offer a time for reflection and a break from our hurried lives, a season to be fully present with our friends and our families. It’s also a season of gratitude.
And I want to take a moment to thank you, the hundreds of volunteer decorators and designers. You’ve traveled from near and far to bring the spirit and the cheer of the holiday season to life. Without your hard work and painstaking attention to detail, none of this would be possible.
I hope that this experience has been as meaningful — meaningful for you as it will for the thousands of visitors. And we’ve upped it this year. We’re going to have, like, over a hundred thousand, which is just amazing. And everyone is going to enjoy your craftsmanship as they walk these halls.
I also — I hope that you’re leaving with more than just a few friends, the kind — (laughter) — the kind that can only be forged together when working together to shape chicken wire into a magnificent arch — (laughter) — or meticulously han- — oh, those — pinning those — those gumdrops. Honestly — (applause). Oh, look at that. (Laughter.)
To the gumdrop pinners. (Applause and laughter.) Yes, side by side, you know, hours on end. Thank you, gum drop pinners. (Laughter.)
Today we also honor and thank the people who work all year to help us stay in touch with the American people: our correspondence volunteers. (Applause.)
I know it’s a lot of work, you know, reading the mail, answering the phones, but you’re an essential part of our democracy, whether you’ve been volunteering for years and years or just a few months or maybe a few decades, like some of you. So, with all of my heart, thank you.
Magic, wonder, and joy. I know that they can feel hard to find sometimes as the days grow shorter, and the weather grows colder; as our hearts grow heavy in the face of a tumultuous world; as we miss those who are no longer with us, an empty seat at the table of our holiday gatherings.
But it’s in these times when we are searching for hope and healing, these points of light — all of them — you know, that the most that we need is each other. That’s when we need each other the most.
Because, you know, children have something to teach us if we’re wise enough to listen: how to remain present, even as a busy world beckons us; how to open ourselves up to love and wonder and to marvel at every moment, no matter how ordinary; how to find beauty at a Metro stop.
With a child’s appreciation for the magic, wonder, and joy of the season, I wish you a Merry Christmas and a very happy holidays from the Biden family to all of yours.
Thank you so much for being here. (Applause.)
Thank you. Thank you, everybody. Thank you.
END 1:38 P.M. EST