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I’m Dreaming of a White House Christmas

By: Steven Heller | December 8, 2008

In the spring of 1997, I was invited to an event at the White House where I prostrated myself before an imposing President Clinton. The following December, I received a Christmas card from the First Family. The painting by Thomas McKnight (above), titled “Fantasy Blue Room,” depicts a cozy living room with the First Animals in repose. The design of the official holiday card is one of the more important design decisions a President and First Lady must make together. The Clintons selected a traditional approach, while George W. Bush’s post-9/11 card from 2001 avoids pagan or religious trappings for a more ecumenical vision of the holiday–photo-realist gifts wrapped in silver and gold (by Adrian Martinez, below). My fave, however, is Herbert Hoover’s austere snapshot of himself (below middle), taken in the Rose Garden in the summer of 1931 as the Great Depression was knocking the flowers off the bloom. But when it comes to conflating patriotism and season’s greetings, you can’t beat the selection by George Bush Sr. and Barbara (bottom). For more Presidential cards visit here, and also check out the video of lighting the national menorah–you don’t even need a security clearance.

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