29 November 2021
The decorations for President Joe Biden's first Christmas in the White House honor workers who stayed on the job during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The White House gave the public the first look at the decorations Monday. The subject chosen for 2021's Christmas White House is "Gifts from the Heart."
The traditional gingerbread White House recognizes nurses, doctors, teachers, food store workers and others. This year, a 158-kilogram gingerbread village was created to include the workplaces of different groups during the pandemic. This included a school, police, fire and gas stations, as well as a post office, food store and warehouse.
Workers who stayed on the job are also represented in bright, colorful doves and shooting stars placed in the East Colonnade area. The White House holiday guidebook says the decorations are meant to honor "the peace and light brought to us by all the front-line workers and first responders during the pandemic."
The decorations are the result of months of planning and work by First Lady Jill Biden and White House employees. She invited a group of second graders from Maryland to help show off the decorations on Monday.
The White House said the decorations are meant to represent people the Bidens met while traveling across the country this year.
A statement by the president and first lady identified important gifts they believe helped unite Americans across the country during the pandemic. Among these were faith, family, the arts, nature, friendship, community, unity and peace.
"These are the gifts that tie together the heartstrings of our lives. These are the gifts from the heart," the statement said. "We wish you a happy, healthy, and joyous holiday season. As we look to a new year full of possibility, may gifts from the heart light our path forward."
The volunteers who decorated the White House came only from the surrounding area because of COVID-19 concerns. About 100 people helped decorate 41 Christmas trees and hung more than 10,000 ornaments.
One major decoration is the official White House Christmas Tree. This year, it is a 5.5-meter tall Fraser fir covered with white doves. The tree, which came from the southern state of North Carolina, contains the names of all U.S. states and territories on white ribbons. It stands in the White House's Blue Room.
The White House has suspended public tours of the building because of ongoing COVID-19 restrictions. It is unclear how holiday celebrations will be held at the presidential home. White House press secretary Jen Psaki has said there will be parties, but added that they would be "different" than in past years.
I'm Bryan Lynn.
The Associated Press reported on this story. Bryan Lynn adapted the report for VOA Learning English. Hai Do was the editor.
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Words in This Story
decoration – n. things put on or around something to make it look more inviting
first responder – n. a person who is one of the first people to arrive to deal with an emergency, especially a paramedic, police officer or firefighter
faith – n. the belief that something is good, right and able to be trusted
heartstrings – n. the deepest emotions or affections
joyous – adj. full of joy; very happy
ornament – n. an object that is beautiful rather than useful
ribbon – n. a long, narrow piece of material used to tie things together or for use as a decoration