November 30th, 2011
05:55 PM ET
WHITE HOUSE (CNN) – First Lady Michelle Obama showed off the newly-decked halls of the White House on Wednesday to a select group of special guests.
Family members of military servicemen and women joined Mrs. Obama and her staff to preview this year’s holiday decorations at the White House.
“I want to thank all of the Gold Star families for your enduring strength and commitment to this country. And I want to thank all of the troops, all of our veterans, all of our military families, whose service and sacrifice inspires us all,” the first lady said. “I know for some of you, this holiday season will be tough. But hopefully, it's times like this that make you know that you live in a grateful nation, and that we are just so inspired by your sacrifice. And hopefully, this is a memory that will stay with you every holiday season.”
This year’s holiday theme is “Shine, Give, Share” and many aspects honor Gold Star and Blue Star families. There are 37 Christmas trees throughout the White House. The largest one, a 18-foot 6-inch balsam fir from Neshkoro, Wisconsin stands in the Blue Room. The tree is adorned with holiday cards made by military children, along with medals, badges, and patches representing all of the branches of the military.
Mrs. Obama spoke of one message on the tree which five children from Washington state wrote. “No matter how many Christmases our dad misses, he makes every Christmas special and we love him,” the card read.
After her remarks in the East Room, she invited all the children to the State Dining Room where the White House served cookies and the kids made holiday crafts. The White House chefs have made 20,000 cookies so far for this holiday season. The White House says approximately 85,000 visitors will pass through its halls this December.