Darlene Superville and Alexandra Jaffe | Associated Press
WASHINGTON – Jill Biden kicked off the holiday season at the White House on Monday by picking a twig from the official Blue Room tree and giving it – and kissing hard – to her toddler grandson.
“Look how beautiful it is,” the first lady said of the 18.5-foot Fraser spruce, which was brought in a van to her doorstep on Pennsylvania Avenue by Clydesdale horses named Ben and Winston.
“It’s beautiful. It’s really great,” she said.
The first lady later joined President Joe Biden, who visited the Army Fort Bragg in North Carolina to celebrate the “passing of friends” with military personnel and military families.
The two events kicked off the White House holiday season, which is expected to be much more festive this year, as health officials urge those vaccinated against COVID-19 to come together in person instead of begging Americans to stay home. how they did it. made for past holidays.
The Christmas tree was donated by father and son Rusty and Bo Estes of Peak Farms in Jefferson, North Carolina, a three-time winner of the National Christmas Tree Association’s annual competition. The winner must present his official tree to the White House.
Son Hunter Biden, his wife Melissa, and their toddler Beau were among a significant group of White House aides, guests, and others who, despite the breeze, watched the brief ceremony marking the start of the first administration Christmas at the White House.
In the coming days, the Fraser Spruce will be decorated and displayed in the Blue Room, a tradition dating back to President Dwight D. Eisenhower, after the chandelier is removed so it can be tied to the ceiling for security. In October, White House Territory Superintendent Dale Haney came to the farm to pick a tree. Peak Farms also supplied the official White House tree in 2008 and 2012.
White House Christmas decorations will be unveiled on the Monday following Thanksgiving, the first lady said.
Her office said Jill Biden was joined by the DC Army National Guard family to pay tribute to the National Guard’s role in responding to the COVID-19 pandemic. She has used her new role to help bring attention and support to the families of military personnel across the country through an initiative called Join Forces.
At Fort Bragg, meals were held in a large coat rack replete with pumpkin and pine cones centerpieces for approximately 250 military personnel and families. The first to speak was Jill Biden, who left the table to walk around the room, talking to the families about their late son Beau, who served in the Delaware National Guard, and how she understands how difficult it is to be on vacation. She talked about how proud she was of the troops before introducing the president, who echoed her praise.
“You do so much, your families do so much,” President Biden said. “You’re the best military man the world has ever seen … and I’m damn proud to be associated with you.”
After a quick prayer from the chaplain, the Biden went to the serving tables, donned gloves and aprons, and began serving food to the waiting troops. Jill Biden scooped up the mashed potatoes, President the filling. The servicemen were presented with chocolate chip cookies with the presidential seal, and a long table was filled with food, including chocolate brownies.
On Tuesday, the Biden plans to take part in a previously announced local service project before resuming the family tradition of celebrating Thanksgiving in Nantucket, Massachusetts. Last fall, Biden put the tradition on hold due to concerns over COVID-19 and squatted over a Thanksgiving dinner in Delaware with only his wife, their daughter, and son-in-law.
“On the last Thanksgiving, there were only four of us for the first time,” Biden said earlier this month, commenting on the country’s progress in the fight against coronavirus.
Jeff reported from Fort Bragg that North Carolina Associated Press correspondent Colleen Long contributed to the report.