Michelle Obama shows White House Christmas cheer

Anita Kumar

Michelle Obama unveiled the 2012 holiday decorations at the White House, kicking off a season that will bring 90,000 guests to the first family's adopted house.

There are a whopping 54 Christmas trees, including the official one, as well as handmade decorations, wreaths, candles, bows, topiaries, stars, lights and garland.

The 300-pound gingerbread house consists of more than 175 pounds of gingerbread and 50 pounds of chocolate.

The combination of wheat, rye, and white-flour gingerbread mimics the color of the sandstone house prior to 1798, when the house was first painted white.

It even includes chandeliers that light up, the First Lady’s garden and, of course, Bo, the first family's dog.

Obama, wearing a sparkling gold suit, spoke to military families in the East Room before taking their kids, dressed in their holiday finest, to the State Dining Room to decorate ornaments and lollipops.

"I have said this many times before and I will say it again, because I can't say it enough -- our military families truly represent the very best that this country has to offer,'' she said. "And I've seen it up close. You all do so much for this country, and you do it with such amazing poise and grace."

Visitors will be able to fill out Operation Honor cards to write a note of gratitude in honor of our military families, service members and veterans.

The theme of the decorations this year is “Joy to All" that celebrates the joy of giving and service to others; the joy of sharing our blessings with one another and the joy of welcoming guests into our homes.

The official White House Christmas Tree, located in the Blue Room, is an 18-foot-6-inch Fraser fir from the Estes Family’s Peak Farms in Jefferson, N.C., the winning tree farm of the National Christmas Tree Association’s National Christmas Tree Contest.

Anita Kumar
McClatchy Newspapers