NEW CASTLE —
REPORTING FOR DUTY
White was notified in October that she had been accepted as a volunteer, and reported on Thanksgiving evening to begin her five-day odyssey.
The first two of those days, she said, were spent at “a secure, undisclosed vacation that I really can’t give you any information about,” she said. “But while we were there, we were hand-making the majority of the ornaments that would be going everywhere in the White House.”
That was followed by three days of actually decorating the Obamas’ residence.
“And believe me, it was not a cakewalk,” White said. “We were all sore the last day; we all had blisters on our feet by the third day.
“You start at 6 and you’re done in the evening, as if you were working (a job).”
None of that, though, could take the luster off the assignment. White remembers seeing Christmas cards from previous presidents and first ladies in one hall she decorated, and was on hand when the 300-pound gingerbread White House — a tradition since the 1960s — was brought out.
Indeed, just setting foot in the august domicile left her breathless.
“It was a ‘wow’ every single day,” she said. “It was amazing. On the first day, they actually give you the first 30 minutes just to absorb where you’re at.”
All told, there are 54 trees set up along the visitors route inside the White House, and 90,000 people are expected to view them during the holiday season. The one that meant the most to White, though, was the one that pays tribute to the armed forces and their families.
“I was given the honor to do the Armed Forces Tree, which is the first one you see when you walk into the White House through the South Portico,” she said. “And those are the ornaments that I hand made. So, being a military spouse, it was even a better treat for me to do that tree.”
The experience climaxed on White’s final day when she got to meet the first lady.
“It was overwhelming,” she said. “No matter your political affliation, as a person, she is unbelievably kind and down-to-earth. What you see is what you get with her, and I appreciate that.”