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First Lady Receives Official White House Christmas Tree

November 22, 2022 by Dan McCue
First Lady Receives Official White House Christmas Tree
(Photo by Dan McCue)

WASHINGTON — First Lady Jill Biden and her 2-year-old grandson Beau formally received the 2022 White House Christmas tree on Monday, declaring it “beautiful” as the growers, invited guests and a smattering of administration staffers looked on.

The tree, a 20-year-old fir, was grown at the Evergreen Acres Tree Farm in Schuylkill County, Pennsylvania.

It was delivered to the White House by a pair of Clydesdale horses named Ben and Winston as Biden looked on. 

It will next move to the Blue Room in the White House residence, where it will be decorated for the holiday season.

“I love the tree,” Biden said as she greeted growers Paul and Pam Shealer, and members of their family.

The Shealers were awarded the honor of the National Christmas Tree Association’s 2022 Grand Champion Grower (a title they also won in 2000, when they presented the tree to former first lady Hillary Clinton).

As they gathered for a family photo in front of the horse-drawn carriage, Paul Shealer turned to Biden with a smile and said, “I think it will fill the room.”

(Photo by Dan McCue)

“It will fill our hearts, for sure,” Biden said.

Also welcoming the tree were National Guard and Army mom, Kelly Hokanson, the spouse of Gen. Daniel Hokanson, chief of the National Guard Bureau, and their daughter.

The day was lent a particularly festive air due to the presence of several members of the extended Biden family, who had remained in Washington following the Saturday wedding of the president’s granddaughter Naomi and her longtime boyfriend Peter Neal on the South Lawn of the White House.

In a statement, the president and first lady said of their eldest grandchild, “It has been a joy to watch Naomi grow, discover who she is, and carve out such an incredible life for herself.” 

“Now, we are filled with pride to see her choose Peter as her husband and we are honored to welcome him to our family,” they said. “We wish them days full of laughter and a love that grows deeper with every passing year.”

The good tidings carried over to Monday morning, when, as previously reported by The Well News, President Biden celebrated the annual pardoning of a pair of Thanksgiving turkeys.

“It’s a wonderful Thanksgiving tradition here at the White House,” Biden said. “There’s a lot to say about it, but it’s chilly outside, so I’m going to keep this short. Nobody likes it when their turkey gets cold.”

Standing nearby were Ronnie Parker, chairman of the National Turkey Federation, who raised the birds on his family farm in Monroe, North Carolina, students from the Brookland Middle School in Washington, and students from the 4-H programs of Virginia and Maryland, as well as from the National Future Farmers of America.

(Photo by Dan McCue)

 “And you see that dog up on the balcony there? That German Shepard. That’s my dog, Commander,” the president said. “I was worried if he came down here with all of you, he’d just do nothing but kiss you and lick you. But he may go after the turkeys, so I kept him up there.”

At that, the turkeys, Chocolate and Chip, let out a loud gobble, causing a wave of laughter to ripple through the crowd.

“But before I gobble up too much time,” Biden tried to continue, though he was interrupted by a bark from Commander and more gobbling from the turkeys.

“I didn’t mean to get started, man. Don’t start on them,” the president laughed, addressing his dog.

 “At any rate … we’ve got to get on with this,” the president said. “First of all, the votes are in. They’ve been counted and verified. There’s been no ballot stuffing. There’s no ‘fowl’ play. And the only red wave this season is going to be if Commander knocks over the cranberry sauce on our table.”

With that, Biden introduced Chocolate, who was lifted atop a table on the small stage the president was speaking from, and Chip, who stood nearby.

“Chocolate weighs 46 pounds, and I’m told he loves catching the sun on the Outer Banks. And Chip weighs 47, and he loves barbecue and basketball, I’m told,” the president said to more laughter.

“And now, based on their temperament and commitment to being productive members of society, I hereby pardon …” the turkeys gobbled.

(Photo by Dan McCue)

“Yes,” Biden said in response. “I hereby pardon Chocolate and Chip.” 

Turning serious, the president added, “We can’t forget the reason for Thanksgiving in the first place. The pilgrims thought it was pretty important in tough times to come together and thank God, to be grateful for what we have. 

“That’s what the Thanksgiving tradition is all about: being grateful for what we have and grateful for fellow Americans who we may never meet but to whom we owe so much,” Biden said, making particular note of the doctors and nurses and researchers who got the nation through the pandemic, as well we first responders, frontline workers and members of the military.

“This is a special time in the greatest nation on Earth, so let’s be grateful,” Biden said. “Scripture says, ‘Let us rejoice always, pray continually, and give thanks in all circumstances.’ 

“Folks, let’s remember — despite all the political fighting that goes on that you read about — let’s remember one thing: This is the United States of America and there’s not a single, solitary thing beyond our capacity as a nation — nothing beyond our capacity — if we do it together, united.”

With that, the turkeys appeared to gobble their agreement, eliciting more laughter from the crowd and the president himself.

Biden and the first lady are traveling to Nantucket, Massachusetts, on Tuesday, where they will celebrate Thanksgiving with their family.

Dan can be reached at dan@thewellnews.com and at https://twitter.com/DanMcCue

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