What's in a White House Christmas Card?

Mary Katharine Ham
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Posted: Dec 13, 2006 11:02 AM

I took the Christmas tour of the White House this morning. Sadly, no cameras allowed, but you can see the official pictures, here, or follow Barney on his tour.

It was absolutely beautiful, particularly the Red Room, a pair of giant, bright poinsettia trees, and the Gingerbread White House-- made of 300 lbs. of gingerbread and chocolate. I bet nobody ever eats that thing. What a shame.

But the thing I noticed was on the wall of Christmas cards, which displayed the official White House Christmas cards sent out by Presidents Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon, Bush 41, Clinton, Bush 41, and Bush 43 (I'm guessing Reagan's and Carter's  and others might have been there, too, but I didn't notice them specifically). 

Eisenhower's were stately and dignified-- almost too spare for Christmas, featuring only the presidential seal and "Season's Greetings" across the fronts. Kennedy's small section spoke of a term and a life cut short, with just two black-and-white cards displayed. Johnson's were traditional watercolors, mostly outdoor views of the White House. Nixon's had absolutely no unifiying thread, skating from bright green foil to black-and-white photography. Bush 41's were traditional again, but brighter than Johnson's watercolors, and mostly indoor views of the White House's rooms. Bush 43's have been much the same, mixing indoor and outdoor shots.

But Clinton? Ahh, Clinton. Smack dab in the middle of his display, marking his first Christmas in office, is a card adorned by none other than Bubba and his lovely bride, standing next to one of the White House Christmas trees. It was the only one on display that featured the President himself as opposed to art or photography.

It stuck out. People snickered as they walked past. "How very Clintonian of them," we all thought.