Eighteen First Ladies & Christmas: A Four-Part Series

Eleanor Roosevelt meets Santa Claus.

Eleanor Roosevelt meets Santa Claus.

There’s now a four-part series on the National First Ladies Library Blog reviewing how First Ladies from the Antebellum Period, Victorian Age, Progressive Era, and Modern Times celebrated the Holiday Season and Christmas at the White House.  Here, you’ll find which First Lady….

Dolley Madison.

Dolley Madison.

-waited one Christmas for a son who never showed up, gallivanting instead in Europe

-failed to forge a romance between the widowed Vice President and one of her girlfriends

Pat Nixon and the Gingerbread House.

Pat Nixon and the Gingerbread House.

-first permitted public disclosure on how the presidential family spent Christmas and sent out one of the first known holiday cards

– opened the White House at night so those working during the day could bring their families to see the holiday decorations

-placed a nativity creche on display, a rare religious display in the White House

-didn’t acknowledge the holiday and instead held her regular weekly open-house reception

Mamie Eisenhower.

-painted her own Christmas cards Mamie Eisenhower.

-wrote two Christmas books for children

Julia Grant.

Julia Grant.

-installed a skating ring on the White House South Lawn for a Christmas party

-began the custom of bringing White House Dogs along to preview the Christmas decorations

-spent the holiday in war-torn Europe with American troops

Ida McKinley.

Ida McKinley.

-had pre-recorded Christmas carols piped into the state rooms with a hi-fidelity stereophonic sound systems

-worked alongside with electricians and handymen to deck the halls with holly herself

-sent mammoth candy canes to wounded and disabled veterans as a personal gift from her

 

Rosalynn Carter.

Rosalynn Carter.


Categories: Christmas at the White House, First Ladies, Presidential Christmas

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10 replies »

  1. as festivities go, i would like to wish you a merry xmas and happy new year, dear Carl. May your website be as educational and prosperous as it has been all these faithful years!

  2. To suggest Pat Nixon “didn’t acknowledge the Holidays” is not true, She totally immersed herself in it which was very evident the second you entered the Whitehouse during the Christmas season. Her famous “gingerbread house” display was her idea and she actually help make it.

    • Bill, I’m very confused about your accusation here – where did you get that idea? Did you read the articles? If so, you will see she is very, very much acknowledged – apart from the fact that on this article page is a picture of her with the Gingerbread House. I think you read the article too quickly or just scanned it. It lists all the many First Ladies mentioned in the four part series, and one of those who “didn’t acknowledge the Holidays.” But it was certainly not Pat Nixon, nor is that suggested anywhere.

      • On the opening page I read the following statements between the pictures of Dolly Madison and Pat Nixon: “-waited one Christmas for a son who never showed up, gallivanting instead in Europe

        -failed to forge a romance between the widowed Vice President and one of her girlfriends

        Pat Nixon and the Gingerbread House.
        Pat Nixon and the Gingerbread House.
        -first permitted public disclosure on how the presidential family spent Christmas and sent out one of the first known holiday cards

        – opened the White House at night so those working during the day could bring their families to see the holiday decorations

        -placed a nativity creche on display, a rare religious display in the White House

        -didn’t acknowledge the holiday and instead held her regular weekly open-house reception”

        I’m almost sure Dolly was the one who waited for her son who never showed up and failed to forge a romance between the VP and one of her girlfriends, and I also know Pat Nixon did all the other items listed except the last one! I’m confused that you didn’t notice the last sentence here?? Are my eyes playing tricks with me??

        • The way it reads on the opening page looks like it’s being attributed to Pat Nixon?? I did not read the entire article, but the opening page usually catches your initial attention, that’s why I immediately brought this to your attention, it appears misleading at first glance.

          • The pictures are not matched or paired to the statements. There are just several images but I think about a dozen “find out which First Lady” statements and a total of 18 covered in the four stories. I think it makes sense if you read the stories rather than glance at the opening page.

        • Actually, it is not true that Pat Nixon did all the other things….however, since the National First Ladies’ Library is running a contest for a prize for the first person who can answer all the questions correctly….I can’t away the answers just yet, haha….so hope you understand. I appreciate your effort in writing Bill.

          • Sorry if I sounded a little over the top. As i’m sure you understand I am very defensive when it comes to Mrs. Nixon who I always admired and felt never received her due credit. I thank you Carl for recognizing her accomplishments and bringing them to light on your site! A million thanks!!

          • Dear Bill- sorry for the delayed response. On the contrary, its a compliment to the work when readers are as engaged as you are. And we most definitely share in the sense that Pat Nixon is deserving of much more credit. I do believe that is slowing changing, however, and that historians are beginning to recognize the breadth of her achievements as First Lady.

  3. “Think Mariah Carey is the queen of Christmas cheer? Think again.” MSNBC recently crowned the true Queen of Christmas: First Lady Pat Nixon, credited with introducing the most festive traditions of any First Lady.

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