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First Lady Michelle Obama Takes Let’s Move! Initiative to Jackson, Mississippi

Posted by: Audiegrl

Let’s Move! Mississippi

First Lady Michelle Obama, right, applauds the students of Brinkley Middle School in Jackson, Miss., Wednesday, March 3, 2010, before speaking about her healthy schools campaign, Lets Move. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)

The First Lady traveled to Jackson, Mississippi today to spend time with students, officials and experts discussing a deeply important issue, not just as a First Lady, but as a mother. And that’s childhood obesity. Alongside Governor Barbour and Mississippi’s First Lady, Mrs. Obama toured Pecan Park Elementary school’s walking trail — just one example of the creative work happening across the state to make sure kids stay healthy and active.

Later at Brinkley Middle School, the First Lady discussed state and nationwide efforts to meet these challenges, emphasizing an important goal of the Let’s Move! initiative:

We are trying to end the epidemic of childhood obesity in a generation. That’s a big goal — because we want kids born today to grow up healthy and at a good weight when they reach adulthood. So that’s the goal. And reaching this goal, it’s an ambitious goal to talk about doing anything in a generation. It’s a hard thing. But that’s why we started Let’s Move!, because this initiative is asking everyone in the country to do their part to reach this goal. Everyone has got to do their part.

So, do your part and Let’s Move towards a healthier future. Learn more at LetsMove.gov and stay connected on Facebook. The First Lady’s transcript can be found here.

First Lady Michelle Obama visits Pecan Park Elementary

WLBT~”We love you,” students cheered upon the arrival of First Lady Michelle Obama to Pecan Park Elementary. It’s an inner city school that has been aggressively pursuing fitness and healthy nutrition goals.

I high-fived her, and she high-fived me. She told me great job because I was jump roping very good,” said second grader Vivian Coleman. She was proud of her interaction with Mrs. Obama, while Keunte Sibley was excited about the photograph he made with the first lady.

I’m going to frame it and put it on Facebook,” Keunte said.

For Mrs. Obama, her flats were made for walking on a playground that has continued to expand to meet the needs of more than 500 students.

Pecan Park’s principal guided the tour for Mrs. Obama, Governor Haley Barbour and First Lady Marsha Barbour. “The playground area was not enough to provide everybody the exercise they needed, and we jumped on the bandwagon with ‘Let’s Go Walking, Mississippi’,” Quon said.

First Lady Michelle Obama, right, confers with Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour, left, and his wife Marsha Barbour as they tour the walking trail and playground at Pecan Park Elementary School in Jackson, Miss., Wednesday, March 3, 2010. Obama will visit two schools in Jackson to promote health and physical activity. Pecan Park principal Wanda Quon, and two students accompanied the Barbours and the First Lady on a walk along the track. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)

A similar program to “Let’s Go Walking” was the purpose of the first lady’s visit. She’s promoting the “Let’s Move” campaign.

These programs are not just about fitness. They also tout healthy nutrition. “We talked a little bit about our garden because she has a garden at the White House. She shared how they’ve just harvested the first vegetables from her garden,” Quon said.

Mrs. Obama’s visit was brief, but both Quon and the students said her message will last a long time. “I have to say, it was very, very ,very great!” Vivian said.

After she leaves, the impact will still be here,” Quon said.

For more information about the two programs, click on the following links:

Check out Let’s Go Walking Mississippi

Check out Let’s Move!

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Note: The first nine photos in this gallery are from Brinkley Middle School, and the remaining eleven are from Pecan Park Elementary School. Photo credit: Greg Jenson/The Clarion-Ledger Staff Photographer.

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Looking for more stories on the First Lady? Check out our brand new section: FLOTUS: All Things Michelle Obama


Filed under Childhood Obesity, Children, First Lady Michelle Obama, Governors, Health, Obama Administration, Students

Academy Award® Nominated: The Lovely Bones

Ensemble post by: Audiegrl, Geot, BuellBoy and TheLCster

Based on the best selling book by Alice Sebold, The Lovely Bones is the story of a 14-year-old girl from suburban Pennsylvania who is murdered by her neighbor. She tells the story from Heaven, showing the lives of the people around her and how they have changed all while attempting to get someone to find her lost body.

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The cast includes: Rachel Weisz, Mark Wahlberg, Saoirse Ronan, Stanley Tucci, Jake Abel, Susan Sarandon, Michael Imperioli, Reece Ritchie, and Rose McIver

44D’s Reviews

I read the book as soon as I started to see the commercials for the movie and was presently surprised that it wasn’t a book about “some poor little murdered girl who looks down on her family from heaven.” Insensitive? Yes, I know but I’m a Steven King and Chuck Palahniuk fan what can I say? I did like the book however, and found the movie to be a true representation (although they watered down some of the more adult oriented character connections from the book). In the same sense that if you loved S.E. Hinton’s The Outsiders you would love Coppola’s “The Outsiders,” if you loved Alice Seabold’s The Lovely Bones you will love to see the characters come to life in the movie!

Did You Know?

The school that Susie attends is based on General Wayne Middle School in Malvern, Pennsylvania (now known as General Wayne Elementary School), which Alice Sebold attended in the 1970s.

Cameo: [Billy Jackson] Peter Jackson’s son, can be seen shopping at the record store in the mall.

Cameo: [Peter Jackson] man with movie camera in pharmacy when Jack Salmon picks up the prints from the first roll of Susie’s film.

For his role as George Harvey, ‘Stanley Tucci’ had his skin lightened, his chest and arm hair dyed to match his blondish-brown comb-over wig, and wore false teeth to alter his jaw line. He also wore blue contact lenses and a lentil-filled fat suit to widened his girth. All topped off with square-frame eyeglasses, a fake mustache and sideburns.

One Nomination

Best Supporting Actor~Stanley Tucci

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Filed under 82nd Academy Awards, Best Sup Actor, Books, Child Abuse/Molestation, Children, Crime, Culture, Entertainment, Hollywood, Pop Culture, Uncategorized, Young Women

Academy Award® Nomination: District 9

Posted by: Audiegrl, Geot, Bluedog89, The LCster and Buellboy

District 9
Over twenty years ago, aliens made first contact with Earth. Humans waited for the hostile attack, or the giant advances in technology. Neither came. Instead, the aliens were refugees from their home world. The creatures were set up in a makeshift home in South Africa’s District 9 as the world’s nations argued over what to do with them.

Now, patience over the alien situation has run out. Control over the aliens has been contracted out to Multi-National United (MNU), a private company uninterested in the aliens’ welfare. MNU will receive tremendous profits if they can make the aliens’ powerful weaponry work. So far, they have failed; activation of the weaponry requires alien DNA.

The tension between the aliens and the humans comes to a head when MNU begins evicting the non-humans from District 9, with MNU field agents responsible for moving them to a new camp. One of the MNU field operatives, Wikus van der Merwe, contracts an alien virus that begins changing his DNA. Wikus quickly becomes the most hunted man in the world, as well as the most valuable – he is the key to unlocking the secrets of alien technology. Ostracized and friendless, there is only one place left for him to hide: District 9.

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The cast includes: Sharlto Copley, David James, Jason Cope, and Vanessa Haywood

44D’s Reviews

I loved this futuristic look at a society’s reaction to new comers who may need aid. This movie can be seen in two ways in my opinion: a sci-fi movie about aliens or a sci-fi satire about our own society’s reaction to those different from “us.” Take your pick!

“I thoroughly enjoyed this film. It starts a little slow, but after the first 35 minutes, you’ll be rooting for the aliens. 🙂 The thing that really impressed me, was the filmmaker’s ability to combine documentary style and cinematic style, in a way that looks seamless. Other directors have tried to do it before, but this one really made it work and look real.

There is also a subtle political statement through-out the film, although the director and writers don’t admit that on the DVD extras. But to have it set in post-apartheid Johannesburg, can’t be just a coincidence.”

Did You Know?

All the shacks in District 9 were actual shacks that exists in a section of Johannesburg which were to be evacuated and the residents moved to better government housing, paralleling the events in the film. Also paralleling, the residents had not actually been moved out before filming began. The only shack that was created solely for filming was Christopher Johnson’s shack.

The film was inspired by director Neill Blomkamp’s childhood in South Africa during apartheid.

Star Sharlto Copley had not acted before and had no intention of pursuing an acting career. He stumbled into the leading role as Neill Blomkamp placed him on-camera during the short film.

Sharlto Copley ad-libbed all his lines during the “documentary” sequences.

Many real tribal languages of Southern Africa employ clicking sounds (much like the ones the filmmakers included in the alien language) in their vocabularies, including Zulu (the most widely spoken indigenous language of South Africa) and Xhosa, another frequently spoken South African language (even the name “Xhosa” has a click in it).

The language used by the aliens (clicking sounds) was created by rubbing a pumpkin.

Four Nominations

Best Motion Picture
Best in Adapted Screenplay
Best Visual Effects
Best in Film Editing

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Filed under 82nd Academy Awards, Best Adap Screenplay, Best Film Editing, Best Picture, Best Visual Effects, Culture, Documentary, Entertainment, Hollywood, Pop Culture, Uncategorized, World

George Lopez Throws Benefit Concert For Disaster Relief: “Help Haiti with George Lopez and Friends”

Posted by: Audiegrl

A Personal Message from George…

The people of Haiti need our help. On Thursday, February 4th I am throwing a benefit concert, called “Help Haiti with George Lopez and Friends” at The Nokia Center, here in Los Angeles. The best musicians, comedians and athletes will be there for the cause, including my friends Andy Garcia, Slash and Samuel Jackson.

100% of the proceeds will go to directly to Haiti to help the victims and their families. Click here for more information on how to purchase tickets for “Help Haiti with George Lopez and Friends.”

Lopez Tonight Help Haiti DonationIf you can’t make it to the concert, you can still help. Lopez Tonight has teamed up with “CARE” to raise money. Click on the “CARE” logo to donate directly to relief efforts that will help the people of Haiti. And we will match the first 25,000 dollars that come from you.

Americans are the most generous people in the world. Your gift will help save lives. Let’s show Haiti how much we care.

Guests Include: Slash, Samuel L. Jackson, Andy Garcia, Kobe Bryant, Ray Romano, Larry David, Vanessa Hudgens, Cheech & Chong, Margaret Cho, Cedric the Entertainer, Cypress Hill, Earvin ‘Magic’ Johnson, Eva Langoria-Parker, Amber Veletta, Don Cheadle, Jennifer Love Hewitt, Cheech and Chong, Cypress Hill, Los Lobos, and many more!

Tonight you can check out “Hope for Haiti Now: A Global Benefit for Earthquake Relief”, LIVE Streamed and Blogged at 44-D’s tonight…January 22nd at 8PM EST. Join in and help out the people of Haiti.

Complete Haiti Relief Coverage Main PageHaiti Relief Coverage Main Page


Filed under Art, Charity, Culture, Dancing, Disaster, Earthquake, Entertainment, Facebook, George Lopez, Haiti, Hispanic/Latino/Latina, Hollywood, Hunger, Lopez Tonight, Los Angeles, CA, Media and Entertainment, Medicine, Music, MySpace, News, Philanthropy, Pop Culture, Port au Prince, Sports, TBS, Twitter, Uncategorized, United Nations, United States, US, Video/YouTube, Volunteerism, Women's Issues, World

Welcome to 44’D’s Happy Holiday’s Special

We here at The 44 Diaries would like to say Thank You for participating in our blog and we hope that you all have a happy holiday and a prosperous new year. We also hope that you get to spend plenty of time with the people you love the most…

Please note: We will be keeping this up all week in celebration, but will be posting political news in the top section next to ‘Home’.

History of Christmas


Origins and Traditions of Hanukkah



Celebrating Kwanzaa


Santa Claus Through History



Famous and Not-So Famous Christmas Movies List



The History of Christmas at the White House 1789-2009



Twenty-Five Days of Christmas Music Videos



Christmas Around the World



Fun Filled Christmas Facts



Christmas in the Age of Dickens

Christmas in the Age of Dickens



Amazing Christmas Truce of 1914



Holiday Season at the White House with the Obama’s 2009



Filed under Abraham Lincoln, African-Americans, Art, Asian/Pacific Islander, Barack Obama, Books, Calvin Coolidge, Change, Charity, Children, Christianity, Christmas, Christmas at the White House, Countries, Culture, Dancing, Dwight D. Eisenhower, Entertainment, Europe, First Daughters, First Lady Michelle Obama, First Sons, George W. Bush, Gerald Ford, Green, Hanukkah, Hispanic/Latino/Latina, History, Holidays, Hollywood, Judaism, Kwanzaa, Media and Entertainment, Middle East, Military, Music, Politics, Pop Culture, Pres. Barack Obama, Presidents, Religion, Richard M. Nixon, Ronal Regan, Seniors, States, Television, Toys for Tots, TV Shows, Uncategorized, US, Video/YouTube, Volunteerism, Washington, DC, William (Bill) J. Clinton, Women's Issues, World

The History of Christmas at the White House 1789-2009

Like any other Americans, the family living in the big white house on Pennsylvania avenue has traditions surrounding the holiday season as well. Sit back, and get comfortable, while we explore how Presidents have celebrated Christmas from President George Washington to President Barack Obama.

A special note of thanks goes to our friends at White House Christmas Cards, for allowing us to use some of their outstanding research material as part of this presentation. If you are interested in a more in-depth study of Christmas in the White House, we highly recommend you visit their site.

Christmas is not a time nor a season, but a state of mind. To cherish peace and goodwill, to be plenteous in mercy, is to have the real spirit of Christmas. ~ President Calvin Coolidge

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History of Christmas at the White House (1789-1849)

President George Washington and First Lady Martha (1789-1797)
President John Adams and First Lady Abigale (1797-1801)
President Thomas Jefferson (1801-1809)
President James Madison (1809-1817)
President James Monroe and First Lady Elizabeth (1817-1825)
President John Quincy Adams and First Lady Louisa (1825-1829)
President Andrew Jackson and First Lady Rachel (1829-1837)
President Martin Van Buren (1837-1841)
President William Henry Harrison and First Lady Anna (1841-1841)
President John Tyler and First Ladies Lettitia and Julia (1841-1845)
President James K. Polk and First Lady Sarah (1845-1849)
President Zachary Taylor and First Lady Margaret (1849-1850)


History of Christmas at the White House (1850-1901)

President Millard Fillmore and First Ladies Abigail and Caroline (1850-1853)
President Franklin Pierce and First Lady Jane (1853-1857)
President James Buchanan (1857-1861)
President Abraham Lincoln and First Lady Mary (1861-1865)
President Andrew Johnson and First Lady Elizabeth (1865-1869)
President Ulysses S. Grant and First Lady Julia (1869-1877)
President Rutherford B. Hayes and First Lady Lucy (1877-1881)
President James A. Garfield and First Lady Lucretia (1881-1881)
President Chester A. Arthur and First Lady Ellen (1881-1885)
President Grover Cleveland and First Lady Francis (1885-1889, (1893-1897)
President Benjamin Harrison and First Lady Caroline and Mary (1889-1893)
President William McKinley and First Lady Ida (1897-1901)


History of Christmas at the White House (1901-1953)

President Theodore Roosevelt and First Ladies Alice and Edith (1901-1909)
President William Howard Taft and First Lady Helen (1909-1913)
President Woodrow Wilson and First Ladies Ellen and Edith (1913-1921)
President Warren G. Harding and First Lady Florence (1921-1923)
President Calvin Coolidge and First Lady Grace (1923-1929)
President Herbert Hoover and First Lady Lou (1929-1933)
President Franklin Delano Roosevelt and First Lady Eleanor (1933-1945)
President Harry S. Truman and First Lady Bess (1945-1953)


History of Christmas at the White House (1953-1977)

President Dwight Eisenhower and First Lady Mamie Eisenhower (1953-1961)
President John F. Kennedy and First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy (1961-1963)
President Lyndon Johnson and First Lady Claudia (Lady Bird) (1963-1969)
President Richard Nixon and First Lady Patricia (1969-1974)
President Gerald Ford and First Lady Betty (1974-1977)


History of Christmas at the White House (1977-2009)

President Jimmy Carter and First Lady Rosalyn Carter (1977-1981)
President Ronald Regan and First Lady Nancy (1981-1989)
President George HW Bush and First Lady Barbara (1989-1993)
President William J. Clinton and First Lady Hillary (1993-2001)
President George W. Bush and First Lady Laura Bush (2001-2008)
President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama (2009- )


Back to Happy Holidays Main Page


Filed under Art, Charity, Children, Christmas, Christmas at the White House, Culture, Dancing, Entertainment, Hanukkah, History, Holidays, Kwanzaa, Media and Entertainment, Military, Music, Politics, Pop Culture, Presidents, Uncategorized, United States, US, Video/YouTube, Washington, DC, Women's Issues

The History of Christmas at the White House 1789 thru 1849

President George Washington and First Lady Martha 1789-1797

George Washington was sworn in as the first President of the United States on the balcony of Federal Hall in New York City. There was no White House at that time so the Washington’s lived in houses that were “borrowed” as Presidential homes, first in New York City and later in Philadelphia.

At a time when Christmas was still quite controversial in a new nation, at the time Martha Washington’s holiday receptions were stiff and regal affairs, quite befitting the dignity of the office of President of the United States and invitations were much desired by the local gentry. A Christmas party was given by the Washington’s for members of Congress on Christmas Day, 1795 at which a bountiful feast was served to the guests, all men with the exception of the First Lady.

The 2009 Mount Vernon Holiday Ornament

The 2009 Mount Vernon Holiday Ornament

Although not everyone celebrated Christmas in the colonies, the festivities at Washington’s Mount Vernon plantation in Virginia would start at daybreak with a Christmas fox hunt. It was followed by a hearty mid-day feast that included “Christmas pie,” dancing, music, and visiting that sometimes did not end for a solid week. This, of course, is in stark contrast to the Christmas of 1777, spent by General Washington and his troops at Valley Forge where dinner was little more than cabbage, turnips, and potatoes.

Some documents show that Christmas at Mt. Vernon were quite a celebration. The traditional feast varied from household to household (depending on how wealthy the family was) but generally, consisted of wines, rum punches, hams, beef, goose, turkey, oysters, mincemeat pies, and various other treats. The season was considered a grown-up celebration, but presents would generally be given to children. Irena Chalmers notes that in 1759, that George Washington gave the following presents to his children: a bird on Bellows; a Cuckoo; a Turnabout Parrot; a Grocers Shop; an Aviary; a Prussian Dragoon; a Man Smoking; a Tunbridge Tea Set; 3 Neat Books, a Tea Chest. A straw parchment box with a glass and a neat dressed wax baby.

President John Adams and First Lady Abigale 1797-1801

When the second President of the United States, John Adams, moved into what would come to be known as the White House, the residence was cold, damp, and drafty. Sitting at the edge of a dreary swamp, the First Family had to keep 13 fireplaces lit in an effort to stay comfortable. It is in this setting that the cantankerous president held the first ever White House Christmas party in honor of his granddaughter, Susanna. It could be said that the invitations sent for this party were the very first White House Christmas cards, though in those early days, the building was referred to as the President’s Palace, Presidential Mansion, or President’s House.

Peacefield, the Quincy, Massachusetts home and farm of John Adams, where he spent Christmas with his family before and after his presidency

The affair was planned in large part by the vivacious First Lady, Abigail Adams, and was considered a great success. A small orchestra played festive music in a grand ballroom adorned with seasonal flora. After dinner, cakes and punch were served while the staff and guests caroled and played games. The most amusing incident of the evening occurred when one of the young guests accidentally broke one of the First Granddaughter’s new doll dishes. Enraged, the young guest of honor promptly bit the nose off of one of the offending friend’s dolls. The amused president had to intervene to make sure the incident didn’t turn any uglier.

The 2009 John Adams Administration Christmas Ornament

The 2009 John Adams Administration Christmas Ornament

With the death of George Washington shortly before Christmas of 1799, President Adam’s Federalist Party was weakened. Due in part to the unpopularity of the Alien and Sedition Acts, he narrowly lost his re-election bid to Thomas Jefferson, 65 to 73 in the Electoral College. Adams retired to a life of farming at Peacefield, his home near Quincy, Massachusetts. In 1812, Adams reconciled with Thomas Jefferson. He sent a brief note to Jefferson, which resulted in a resumption of their friendship and began an ongoing correspondence that lasted the rest of their lives.

President Thomas Jefferson 1801-1809

Since Christmas did not become a national holiday until 1870 during the administration of Ulysses S. Grant, it is not surprising that the exchanging of White House Christmas cards was not a yearly presidential custom during the very early history of our country. For most of our earlier presidents, there is very little documented information regarding Christmas celebrations or traditions they or their families may have practiced. However, whether it is because he was a prolific letter-writer or that scholars have accumulated a wealth of information on his life from painstaking research, there is more information describing Christmas celebrations of our third president, Thomas Jefferson, than any of our other Founding Fathers who became president. This information reflects both the time Jefferson spent as president in the White House and at his famous Virginia home and plantation, Monticello.

Monticello, the Virginia home and plantation of Thomas Jefferson, where he celebrated many Christmas seasons with his family before and after his presidency

As president in 1805, six of his grandchildren and 100 of their friends – invited by Secretary of State James Madison’s wife, Dolley, who acted as official hostess – made for a tremendously enjoyable holiday party at which Jefferson played the violin for the dancing children. Christmas celebrations at the Jefferson White House were festive affairs where delicacies and local American foods were served. Joyful Christmas partying continued at Monticello in 1809 following the end of the Jefferson presidency earlier that year. Celebrations at Jefferson’s beautiful home included social intercourse amongst friends and relatives and the serving of a Christmas favorite, mince pies. The hanging of Christmas stockings and the decorating of evergreen trees had not yet become the norm like those traditions are today.

2004 American President Collection Thomas Jefferson Ornament

2004 American President Collection Thomas Jefferson Ornament

In all that he did, Jefferson tried to maintain his political and moral philosophy, not only for the country itself, but also for America’s citizens. He believed that each person has “certain inalienable rights,” which could not be taken away whether a government existed or not. He also believed in equality for all people and was a proponent of states’ rights.
Thomas Jefferson died on July 4, 1826 along with fellow Founding Father and 2nd President, John Adams). Ironically, this date was also the 50th anniversary of the adoption of Jefferson’s Declaration of Independence, the document which historians readily believe is perhaps the most important document in our country’s history.

President James Madison 1809-1817

President James Monroe and First Lady Elizabeth 1817-1825

Monroe, a Virginian who is considered the last of the United States’ Founding Fathers, was, however, one of the participants in what may be the most famous Christmas in our nation’s history.

It was on Christmas in 1776 that Monroe, a lieutenant in the Continental Army during the Revolutionary War, was wounded in the shoulder serving with General George Washington in the surprise attack against the Hessians at the Battle of Trenton in New Jersey. In fact, in the famous 1851 painting by German-American artist Emanuel Leutze, it is the young James Monroe who is shown holding the flag as Washington leads his men into battle as their boat crosses the Delaware River from Pennsylvania into New Jersey. Had the exchanging of Christmas cards been a custom back in Colonial times, certainly none would have been exchanged between the pro-British Hessians and the revolution-minded colonists!

The famous painting by Emanuel Leutze featuring George Washington leading his troops across the Delaware on Christmas of 1776. Future President James Monroe is depicted holding the American flag.

The famous painting by Emanuel Leutze featuring George Washington leading his troops across the Delaware on Christmas of 1776. Future President James Monroe is depicted holding the American flag.

In modern times, at the James Monroe Museum in Fredericksburg, Virginia, not only is there an annual exhibition showcasing what the Monroe home would have looked like at Christmastime, but other festivities include fireworks, a display of Christmas dishes such as candied fruits and plum pudding, and decorations which include mistletoe, ivy, and holly.

In 1831 James Monroe died from tuberculosis and heart failure one year later on the 4th of July – the third president of the first five in our country’s history to pass away on the date of the birth of our nation.

President John Quincy Adams and First Lady Louisa 1825-1829

President John Quincy Adams spent four Christmases in the White House and yet there is very little written about his Christmas celebrations, if indeed there were any. He was a very prolific writer and there is certainly the possibility that he sent Christmas messages from the White House. Since Christmas cards were not in vogue until after the 1850s, we can be sure that President John Quincy Adams did not send out White House Christmas cards.

President Adams appointed Joel R. Poinsett as the first U.S. ambassador to Mexico in 1825, who shortly thereafter brought back red, wild growing plants from the southern Mexican states. These red plants would be called poinsettia, the popular Christmas plant of today.

President and Mrs. Adams lived vastly separate lives while in the White House. President Adams developed his love for gardening and Louisa raised silk worms. Perhaps, her intention was to make Christmas presents with the silk. Being the only foreign born first lady, Louisa had some bad publicity stirred up by opponents of her husband. Their son John was the only son of a president to be married in the White House on February 25, 1828. Louisa Adams was the first to allow visitors to tour the White House with the intention of proving that the First Family was not living in the lap of luxury at the expense of the taxpayers.

President Andrew Jackson and First Lady Rachel 1829-1837

During the 1835 Christmas season, a number of young relatives occupied the White House of President Andrew Jackson. His wife’s niece, her four children and the two children of his adopted son, Andrew Jackson, Jr., all made their residence in the executive mansion. The President and his family sent invitations, White House Christmas cards, of sorts, to the local children inviting them to an event in the East Room on Christmas Day.

On Christmas Eve, President Jackson and the White House children embarked upon a carriage ride, delivering gifts to former First Lady Dolly Madison and Vice President Martin Van Buren. As they rode, one of the children asked the President if he thought Santa would visit the White House. Mr. Jackson replied that they would have to wait and see and told the children of a boy he once knew who had never heard of Christmas or Santa Claus and who had never owned a single toy. The boy, he told them, never knew his father and then his mother died. After her death, he had no friends and no place to live. Jackson and the children then visited an orphanage and delivered the remaining gifts in the carriage to its residents. Years later, one of the children, Mary Donelson, realized that the boy the president spoke of had been Jackson himself.

The 2004 American President Collection Andrew Jackson Ornament.

The 2004 American President Collection Andrew Jackson Ornament.

That night, the President encouraged the children to hang their Christmas stockings in his bedroom and even allowed himself to be talked into hanging his own stocking for the first time in his 68 years. On Christmas morning, the children raced into Jackson’s chamber to see what St. Nick had left. They each received a silver quarter, candy, nuts, cake, and fruit in addition to a small toy. The President received slippers, a corncob pipe, and a tobacco bag.

Later that day, the children who had received the White House Christmas card invitations arrived at the residence and found the East Room decorated with mistletoe and other seasonal foliage. They participated in song, games and danced throughout the afternoon. At dinnertime, the youngsters filed into the dining room two-by-two as the band played “The President’s March.” The French chef had created a remarkable feast including winter scenes filled with animals carved out of icing and confectionery sugar. Also featured were cakes shaped like apples, pears, and corn. In the center, there was a large pyramid of cotton “snowballs” – frosted creations which exploded when struck in a certain way.

The Hermitage, the Nashville home of Andrew Jackson, where he spent several Christmas holidays following his stay in the White House

After dinner, the children were allowed to participate in a wild snowball fight. While some of the adults feared that the festivities were getting out of hand, President Jackson cheered them on, taking great pleasure in their youthful enthusiasm.

After two terms, Jackson retired to his estate, the Hermitage, outside Nashville, Tennessee. He remained a force in national politics and was instrumental in the elections of Democrats Martin Van Buren in 1836 and James K. Polk in 1844. He died from tuberculosis in 1845 at the age of 78.

President Martin Van Buren 1837-1841

President William Henry Harrison and First Lady Anna 1841-1841

William Henry Harrison was not in the White House long enough to enjoy a Christmas season, serving only one month before he died. It is very clear that he did not send White House Christmas cards. The first known Christmas cards sold in the United States weren’t until 1843, two years after Harrison’s election in 1841. The custom of sending White House Christmas cards began officially with President Dwight D. Eisenhower, although many prior presidents sent Christmas cards to family and friends.

President William Henry Harrison was portrayed in a 1991 Christmas ornament issued by the White House Historical Society. He was depicted atop a white charger in full military regalia. Harrison spent many years on the Northwest Frontier (as it was known in his time) probably spending Christmas with family or his troops. There is little written about President Harrison’s Christmas celebrations prior to his short tenure in the White House. There is little doubt that he would have followed his Episcopalian beliefs in any Christmas observances.

Grouseland, the Northwest Frontier home of William Henry Harrison, where he spent many Christmas seasons before his short stint in the White House

At the age of 67, William Henry Harrison became the oldest man elected as President of the United States until Ronald Reagan was elected in 1980. He won on the slogan “Tippecanoe and Tyler too” on the Whig ticket. The Harrison’s must have had a busy Christmas season in 1840 preparing to move to the White House.

President Harrison gave the longest inauguration speech in history and had the shortest term. He was the first president to die in office. He served only 30 days before dying of pneumonia. His wife, Anna, never had a chance to be First Lady, but was given a widow’s pension of $25,000 and lifetime franking privilege. President William Henry Harrison was buried in Ohio and the Whig party died with him.

President John Tyler and First Ladies Lettitia and Julia 1841-1845

There were probably no White House Christmas cards sent at the beginning of the Tyler administration. There is no information whatsoever as to whether the Tyler family followed that present-day Christmas tradition, but it was not until 1843 – during the middle of the Tyler administration – that the first commercial Christmas cards were even commissioned. That card was quite controversial as it showed a family and their young child partaking of some wine drinking, a picture of which would have been scandalous had the Tyler’s sent out something similar as their White House Christmas cards. Although Christmas cards were not exchanged, it is known that President Tyler enjoyed hosting Christmas parties for young children.

Married to wife Letitia since 1813, by 1839 she had become an invalid. After her husband acceded to the presidency, a daughter-in-law, Priscilla Cooper, became the President’s official hostess since the First Lady was not able to perform her official duties. On September 10, 1842, after a lengthy illness, Letitia died.

An illustration of party for children thrown by President John Tyler, perhaps a Christmas party

During the following year, the widower Tyler had taken notice of an outgoing and quite beautiful young woman named Julia Gardiner, daughter of Senator Daniel Gardiner of New York, whose family usually spent the winter social season in Washington. It was a special White House Christmas that followed as the President hosted a special Christmas Eve gathering of the Tyler and the Gardiner families. Their friendship turned into love in the succeeding months and the two were married on June 26, 1844.

Serving as First Lady for only a little more than eight months until the end of her husband’s term, Julia made quite an impact during her short reign. At the age of 24 and 30 years younger than her husband, she was the youngest woman to serve as First Lady. Bringing gaiety and a youthful feel to the White House, she made sure that the song “Hail to the Chief” was played at state occasions and she also introduced the Waltz and Polka to White House dance festivities. The one Christmas Julia spent as White House hostess must have been one of joy and celebration.

President James K. Polk and First Lady Sarah 1845-1849

James K. Polk is considered by historians to be the last strong pre-Civil War president. In his one term, he nearly doubled the territory of the United States, strengthened the economic power of the federal government, promoted trade, and bolstered the power of the chief executive. While nearly all give him credit for greatly strengthening the nation, he is often criticized for his lack of a forward-looking vision on the issue of slavery.

Polk accomplished the first two fiscal goals before the middle of his term. These policies were popular in the South and West, but not in Pennsylvania and much of the northeast. His first foreign policy victory came four days after Christmas of 1845, when Texas was admitted to the Union as the 28th state. This angered Mexico, which viewed the area as its own breakaway province. Avoiding a costly war, Polk reached an agreement with Great Britain to recognize the 49th parallel as the border between British Canada and the U.S., acquiring slightly more than half of the Oregon territory in the process. Acquisition of California and New Mexico would prove more difficult as the Mexican government refused Polk’s $20-30 million offer for the territories and by the spring of 1846, the nations would find themselves at war.

The Tennessee home of President Polk where he celebrated Christmas with Mrs. Polk before taking up residence in the White House

The Tennessee home of President Polk where he celebrated Christmas with Mrs. Polk before taking up residence in the White House

The country expanded again when Iowa gained statehood three days after Christmas. Another important event in American history occurred about a week after the holiday season when The Philanthropist became The National Era, and declared itself the country’s leading anti-slavery periodical. A few years later, Harriet Beecher Stowe’s highly-influential novel, Uncle Tom’s Cabin, would first be published as a 40-week serial in The National Era, further stoking the abolitionist movement. A few weeks before Christmas of 1847, another influential anti-slavery publication first rolled off the presses when former slave Frederick Douglass published the North Star.

President Zachary Taylor and First Lady Margaret 1849-1850

Zachary Taylor served as the 12th President of the United States before dying in office after leading our nation for only 16 months. Having spent only one Christmas in the White House (1849), there is no information as to how the President and his family celebrated the holidays or whether they exchanged White House Christmas cards with friends and acquaintances.

Indeed, First Lady Margaret Mackall Smith Taylor cared so little about performing the traditional social duties of a president’s wife that she would not have had a hand in sending out White House Christmas cards anyway. In fact, President Taylor was empathetic to his wife’s feelings of not wanting to take on the role of presidential spouse since his wife had endured a life of hardships as the spouse of a career military man. One of their daughters, newly-married Mary Elizabeth (Betty) Taylor Bliss, assumed her mother’s role at official functions and carried on in that capacity during President Taylor’s short term in office. Whether Betty Taylor Bliss had a hand in overseeing the exchange of White House Christmas cards is unknown as well.

Kentucky boyhood home of Zachary Taylor where he spent Christmas with his seven brothers and sisters

Kentucky boyhood home of Zachary Taylor where he spent Christmas with his seven brothers and sisters

By the summer of the following year, during the final stages of the eventual agreement on the issue which became known as the Compromise of 1850, President Taylor died. At a ceremony on the 4th of July connected with the building of the Washington Monument and celebrating the 74th birthday of our country, the President drank a large amount of cold water along with cherries and iced milk to help overcome the high temperatures. After contacting gastroenteritis and suffering from a high fever that night, Taylor passed away four days later from a reported coronary thrombosis.

Taylor’s death, however, has been clouded in controversy. Being a robust man in good health, historians have surmised that perhaps because of the controversy surrounding the country at that time, certain people upset with Taylor’s stance on slavery might have had reason to do him harm. In 1991, acting on the idea that Taylor was possibly poisoned, the former president’s body was exhumed, and hair and fingernail samples were taken. After testing, it was determined that there was arsenic present but the levels were too low to consider that Taylor – rather than Abraham Lincoln – had been the first president of the United States to have been assassinated.

A special note of thanks goes to our friends at White House Christmas Cards, for allowing us to use some of their outstanding research material as part of this presentation. If you are interested in a more in-depth study of Christmas in the White House, we highly recommend you visit their site.

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