White House Christmas Party
for Children of Military Families
President and Mrs. Bush recently hosted a White House Christmas Party for 200 children of American service members in the East Room of the White House. About half the children there had a deployed parent.
The President told the children he had two jobs there: one was to introduce them to the First Lady, and the other was to "tell you how much we admire your moms and dads (and) how much we appreciate their service to our country."
Mrs. Bush officially began the annual party with a short history lesson, explaining that the theme for this year's White House Christmas decorations is America's National Parks. "Have you ever been in a National Park?" she asked the children.
"Guess what? You're in one right now!" she told them, noting there are 25 national parks in Washington, DC.
Actors from Ford's Theatre, another of those national parks, presented a portion of Charles Dickens' "A Christmas Carol," which is currently running at the Shakespeare Theater.
In welcoming the show's cast and the Ford's Theatre Society, Mrs. Bush told the children, "I think we’re going to learn a good lesson when we watch it about how to keep Christmas in our heart all year long."
The musical adaptation of the holiday classic featuring Ebenezer Scrooge and Tiny Tim kept the children nearly silent for the next 20 minutes. One young man took advantage of his catbird seat between the Bushes (see photo) to ask the couple questions throughout the production, which featured the Ghost of Christmas Present and plenty of music.
At the conclusion of the program, the First Lady welcomed Mary A. Bomar, director of the National Park Service, who had a special treat for the kids.
"Today we’re going to make you Junior Rangers," she told the children. "We’re going to take the pledge to be future junior rangers of the National Park."
Mrs. Bush wrapped up the event with wishes for a Merry Christmas and a few stops to talk with children as she exited the room.