White House Holiday Spirit A 'Joy To All'

  • Lauren Rae (left) and Olivia Marlow look at the ornaments in the Grand Foyer during the first viewing of the White House 2012 holiday decorations in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday. This year's theme is "Joy to All."
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    Lauren Rae (left) and Olivia Marlow look at the ornaments in the Grand Foyer during the first viewing of the White House 2012 holiday decorations in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday. This year's theme is "Joy to All."
    Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Images
  • First lady Michelle Obama welcomed military families to the event. The guests' children got to pet the first family's dog, Bo.
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    First lady Michelle Obama welcomed military families to the event. The guests' children got to pet the first family's dog, Bo.
    Alex Wong/Getty Images
  • Volunteers from around the country traveled to Washington to help with the decorations.
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    Volunteers from around the country traveled to Washington to help with the decorations.
    Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Images
  • Models of Bo sneak into a number of the displays.
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    Models of Bo sneak into a number of the displays.
    Alex Wong/Getty Images
  • Christmas trees are ubiquitous: The White House has 54 up this year.
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    Christmas trees are ubiquitous: The White House has 54 up this year.
    Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Images
  • The East Wing features a stained glass window created by Chicago-based artist David Lee Csicsko.
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    The East Wing features a stained glass window created by Chicago-based artist David Lee Csicsko.
    Alex Wong/Getty Images
  • A nearly 300-pound White House gingerbread house sits in the State Dining Room.
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    A nearly 300-pound White House gingerbread house sits in the State Dining Room.
    Alex Wong/Getty Images
  • A replica of the White House kitchen garden is part of the edible display.
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    A replica of the White House kitchen garden is part of the edible display.
    Alex Wong/Getty Images
  • Many ornaments and other decorations celebrate members of the military, veterans and their families.
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    Many ornaments and other decorations celebrate members of the military, veterans and their families.
    Alex Wong/Getty Images
  • The official White House Christmas tree, an 18-foot-6-inch Frasier fur from Jefferson, N.C., was adorned with ornaments decorated by military children living on bases all over the world.
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    The official White House Christmas tree, an 18-foot-6-inch Frasier fur from Jefferson, N.C., was adorned with ornaments decorated by military children living on bases all over the world.
    Susan Walsh/AP

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The bows are tied, the garlands are hung, and the White House is aglow for the holidays. Volunteers from all over the country handled the decorations with care, and on Wednesday, first lady Michelle Obama showed off their efforts to military families. This year's theme is "Joy to All."

Ship Capt. Pete Hall from Louisville, Ky., followed family tradition by helping with the decorations. His grandfather was the chief usher of the White House from 1938 to 1957. "So this is part of my family heritage," Hall says.

Chris Schwartz of Portland, Ore., came to the White House with his partner, a military officer in the Oregon Air National Guard, who felt that the repeal of Don't Ask Don't Tell opened the door for them to be a part of the annual ritual.

"I've never been to the White House before," Schwartz says, "but to be able to come under these circumstances and under these terms, it's emotionally overwhelming. It really is."

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