White House Christmas Trees Through The Years

While I was looking for pictures of the 2010 White House Christmas tree at Google images, I was bombarded by White House Christmas trees from years past, and that gave me the idea to do a photo essay of White House Christmas trees.

Franklin Pierce was the first President to have a White House Christmas tree.

Pierce’s 1856 Christmas tree in the White House was put up for the enjoyment of the Sunday School students from the New York Avenue Presbyterian Church in Washington.

The first Christmas tree put up for the joy of a president’s immediate family was in 1889 during the administration of Benjamin Harrison.

The earliest White House Christmas tree I was able to find a picture of was the Cleveland family’s Christmas tree:

Cleveland family Christmas tree in the family room and library (today the Yellow Oval Room), ca. 1895.

Beginning with the Harrisons, it became customary to have a Christmas tree in the White House. However, the tradition did not sit well with ardent conservationist Theodore Roosevelt, who was president from September 1901 to March 1909. He thought that the cutting down of trees for use at Christmas led to deforestation.

Though Roosevelt forbade Christmas trees in the White House, one Christmas two of his sons secretly brought in a tree and hid it in a closet. Division of Forestry chief Gifford Pinchot, a dedicated conservationist and Roosevelt confidant, defended the cutting down of trees for Christmas. Pinchot argued that doing so helped thin the forests. Roosevelt was not won over.

After that first Christmas tree made its way into the Roosevelt White House, the president let his son Archie put up a holiday tree annually in his room. However, the White House tried to keep this fact from appearing in the newspapers.

Not surprisingly, I could find no pictures of the  Roosevelt’s Christmas trees.

The New York Times reported on Christmas day, 1912: XMAS TREE IN BLUE ROOM.; Miss Helen Taft’s Guvenile Party an Innovation in White House.

WASHINGTON, Dec. 25. — With the President and Mrs. Taft at Panama, their son and daughter established a new precedent at the White House in the way of a Christmas party to-night. A large and gracefully proportioned fir tree had been put in place in the Blue Room, which in all White House History has never before known a decoration of this kind.
I would never have guessed that the abbreviation, “XMAS” was in use back in the early 1900’s. And I love the quaint spelling of, “juvenile”.
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Ba-Da-Boom!

You want to see what your fireworks will do before you buy them? This site, Phantom Fireworks has videos!

Remember kids, let’s be safe this 4th of July.

1. Don’t hover over your fireworks after the fuse has been lit.

2. Don’t aim them at other people.

3. Do try to be sober!

If anyone has any tips to add, please let me know.

I’m all about safety.

More:

4. Enas Yorl sez: “Be sure to wear safety goggles when you shoot bottle rockets from your mouth”.

5. From Eddiebear: Bottle Rocket wars are probably a bad idea.

6. Wiserbud has several more. You can …uh…read them in the comment section.

Eddiebear sounds like he speaks from experience:

7. “And do not use a wiffle ball bat to launch. Just saying”.

and

8. “Oh, and don’t let your drunk cousin smoke and handle the bag o’fireworks. Unless you want to do the low crawl”.

9. Wisebud says let the kids light the fireworks for you so you don’t burn your fingers. (??!!)

10. Patty Ann sez, “If you have to stop and think, ‘What would my mother say if she saw me doing this,’ DON’T DO IT!”

11. Bmac sez, “If you crease a Whistleing Pete (don’t know if you have them on the east coast) in the middle, it will whistle and then explode, like a firecracker. Also, after you light it, put it down”.

IreneFingIrene has some good ones:

12. “That big all-in-one bag of fireworks for $49.99 at your grocery store… don’t just throw into the fire. You’re supposed to unwrap it and follow the directions and shit”.

13. “If you buy any of the “snake” fireworks for anybody besides your toddlers, then you risk being profiled in next month’s Men’s Vogue”.

14. “Do not light fireworks near John Smeaton. Especially if you are interrupting his smoke break”.

15. Dave In Texas sez, “Never pet a burning dog”.

I’ll try to remember that.

16. Another winner from Wiserbud: “You can light a M-80 with a cigarette, but you really shouldn’t light a cigarette with an M-80″.

Okay, Tushar D wins the prize for most inappropriate tip:

17. “If you must fire rockets out of your ass, at least use some lube. If the rocket cannot escape smoothly, you will have a burnt ass”.

18. Wisebud: *sigh* “When tying a package of firecrackers to a dog’s tail, be sure to use a surgeons knot, to keep them from flying off”. *sigh*

19. Mr. Minority: “You know those mortar shells you fire out of the tubes? Well light one and throw it into a lake/pond and watch the water light up in a spectacular way”!

20. Wiserbud (again!): “Blind people do not enjoy fireworks as much as you might imagine, what with not being able to see the display and really only have the sound to work with.

So be sure to set off your fireworks as close to a blind person as possible, so that they experience the full power of the explosive, including the feel of the blast wave.

This really works best if you do not tell the blind person of your plans in advance”.

21. Tim Sez: “If you use a wrist-rocket or slingshot to launch a cherry bomb, it will explode far enough away so’s you don’t get hurt. Oh, but don’t aim them at squirrels. They never did nothin’ to you”.

Roger that.

22. Mesablue: Always set off as many firecrackers as possible at once.

10,500,000 sounds like a good number.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wQOKvaYmPFQ

50,000 bottle rockets is kind of fun, too.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_O_R_PZUfDA

23. Chris: If you have all your fireworks in a large cardboard box, and the box begins to emit smoke, flames, bottle rockets and/or explosions, run away.

24. Chris again: After throwing all your “dud” fireworks in the burn barrel with the other trash, go inside immediately after lighting it. Watch through a window to make sure you haven’t inadvertantly started any grass fires. (Unless you had something REALLY big in there. In that case, you may want to avoid windows for a while. Just in case.)

25. Cranky: (This one seems suspiciously personal) “Don’t miss when you are throwing firecrackers out of your bedroom window. When they land on cotton curtains, the curtains tend to catch on fire. Then your mom will want to know what’s-up-with-this-trying-to-burn-the-house-down stuff”.

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The History of the Engagement Ring

Wickedpinto made the assertion in the thread below, that the engagement ring tradition only goes back to the 1940’s, where it was invented by the De Beers Diamond Company. It’s true that it didn’t become the standard that it is today until that time, but engagement rings have been around for a very long time.

So as a public service I am going to provide some links for the benefit of all “engagement ring tradition deniers”.

You can read up on engagement rings here, here, and here

The second link makes the case that it was mostly the De Beers Co. that got the trend going to what it is today. The other links provide a more romanticized view.

Hey, it’s my blog, I can write about whatever I want. Traditions are important to conservatives, dammit!

Back From Memphis

Whew, 8 hours of driving can take a lot out of ya…especially if you started off tired. I knew it was going to be a long trip back home, when my eyes started feeling heavy only one hour into the trip.

One thing I noticed on the road was alot of ‘support the troops’ yellow ribbon decals on the back bumpers of cars, especially in southeastern MO. I only saw a couple of moonbatty bumperstickers. That was encouraging.

Anyway, I’m not even unpacked yet, but the kids are in bed, and I’m enjoying a glass of wine while I get caught up on the blogs.

How’d the girls do in their dance competitions, you ask? Well, the youngest ones, not so hot. They both placed in only one dance, but hey, winning isn’t everything. My oldest came home with three 1st place trophies, two 2nds, and one 4th. So, a good day for her. She’s an absolute monster in her hard shoe dances.

After the feis , we went to the ceili, where the girls danced some more in a fun social environment.

And guess who was there to entertain? You’ll never guess, this being Memphis, and all.

Elvis!!! That’s who! An Elvis impersonator, that is. An Elvis impersonator with plucked eyebrows, and a strange, sort of ‘too many cosmetic procedures’ kind of face. But the kids didn’t seem to mind. They all screamed with glee when he started singing Hounddog and threw stuffed hounddogs into the crowd. My youngest kept trying and trying to catch one to no avail. He finally bent down and just handed her one. That made the whole trip for her.

And yes, we did take the time to go visit Graceland before we came home, today. I’ll do a post about Graceland tomorrow, maybe, with pictures.