AP

Bidens open holidays with Christmas tree and ‘friendsgiving’

Nov 22, 2021, 9:53 PM
President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden serve dinner during a visit to Fort Bragg to mark the...
President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden serve dinner during a visit to Fort Bragg to mark the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday, Monday, Nov. 22, 2021, in Fort Bragg, N.C. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
(AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

WASHINGTON (AP) — Jill Biden opened the holiday season at the White House on Monday by breaking off a sprig from the official Blue Room tree and giving it — and a big smooch — to her toddler grandson.

“Look how beautiful this is,” the first lady said of the 18 1/2-foot (5.6 meter) Fraser fir that was delivered by wagon to her Pennsylvania Avenue doorstep by Clydesdale horses named Ben and Winston.

“It is beautiful. It’s magnificent, really,” she said.

The first lady later joined President Joe Biden for a visit to the Army’s Fort Bragg in North Carolina to celebrate “friendsgiving” with service members and military families.

The two events set off a White House holiday season that is expected to be much more festive this year, as public health officials encourage those vaccinated against COVID-19 to get together in person, instead of begging Americans to stay home, as they’ve done for holidays past.

The holiday tree was presented by the father-and-son team of Rusty and Beau Estes of Peak Farms in Jefferson, North Carolina — a three-time winner of the National Christmas Tree Association’s annual contest. The winner gets to present its official tree to the White House.

Son Hunter Biden, his wife, Melissa, and their toddler, Beau, were among a sizable group of White House aides, guests and others who braved crisp winds to watch the brief ceremony marking the start of the administration’s first Christmas in the White House.

The Fraser fir will be decorated in the coming days and displayed in the Blue Room, a tradition that dates back to President Dwight D. Eisenhower, after a chandelier is removed so it can be tethered to the ceiling for safety. White House grounds superintendent Dale Haney went to the farm in October to pick out a tree. Peak Farms also supplied the official White House tree in 2008 and 2012.

The White House Christmas decorations will be revealed on the Monday after Thanksgiving, the first lady said.

Jill Biden was joined by a D.C. Army National Guard family to honor the National Guard’s role in responding to the COVID-19 pandemic, her office said. She has been using her new role to help highlight and rally support for military families from across the country through an initiative named Joining Forces.

At Fort Bragg, the meal was held in a large hanger replete with pumpkin and pine cone centerpieces for about 250 servicemembers and families. Jill Biden spoke first, stepping out from behind a table to walk the room, talking to families about their late son, Beau, who served in the Delaware National Guard, and how she understood how hard it was to be away during holidays. 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 finest military the world has ever seen … and I’m so damn proud to be associated with you.”

After a quick prayer from the chaplain, the Bidens walked behind the serving tables, donned gloves and aprons and started dishing out the meal to waiting troops. Jill Biden scooped mashed potatoes, the president the stuffing. The troops were handed chocolate chip cookies with the presidential seal, and the long table was full of food including chocolate cakes.

On Tuesday, the Bidens plan to participate in a to-be-announced local service project before resuming their family tradition of celebrating Thanksgiving on the Massachusetts island of Nantucket. Biden put tradition on hold last fall over COVID-19 concerns and hunkered down over Thanksgiving dinner in Delaware with just his wife, their daughter and their son-in-law.

“Last Thanksgiving, for the first time, it was just the four of us,” Biden said earlier this month as he commented on the nation’s progress against the coronavirus.

Today’s Top Stories

AP

robert palmer sentenced...
MICHAEL KUNZELMAN Associated Press

Some Capitol rioters try to profit from their Jan. 6 crimes

Facing prison time and dire personal consequences for storming the U.S. Capitol, some Jan. 6 defendants are trying to profit from their participation in the deadly riot, using it as a platform to drum up cash, promote business endeavors and boost social media profiles.
1 day ago
FILE - A hiring sign is displayed at a restaurant in Schaumburg, Ill., Friday, April 1, 2022.  More...
PAUL WISEMAN AP Economics Writer

US unemployment claims rise by 14,000 to 262,000

The four-week average for claims, which smooths out weekly ups and downs, rose by 4,500 to 252,000, also the highest since November.
4 days ago
Money is exchanged at a food stand while workers wear face masks inside Grand Central Market on Wed...
CHRISTOPHER RUGABER AP Economics Writer

US wholesale inflation rose more slowly in July

The monthly decline in wholesale prices follows a government report Wednesday that showed consumer inflation was unchanged from June to July — the first flat figure after 25 straight months of increases.
4 days ago
electric vehicles...
TOM KRISHER AP Auto Writer

Most electric vehicles won’t qualify for federal tax credit

As of now, its estimated that about 50 of the 72 electric, hydrogen or plug-in hybrid models that are sold in the U.S. wouldn't meet the requirements.
5 days ago
President Trump raises fist...
By MICHAEL BALSAMO and MICHAEL R. SISAK Associated Press

Trump says he took the Fifth Amendment in NY investigation

Mr. Trump arrived at the New York Attorney General's offices on Wednesday morning and sent a statement later saying he declined to answer the questions.
5 days ago
Gas prices displayed...
CHRISTOPHER RUGABER AP Economics Writer

US inflation slips from 40-year peak but remains high 8.5%

While there are signs that inflation may ease in the coming months, it will likely remain far above the Federal Reserve's 2% annual target well into next year or even into 2024.
5 days ago

Sponsored Articles

Bidens open holidays with Christmas tree and ‘friendsgiving’