Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt

Silver and White Tree

Roosevelt Tree
click image for enlarged view

Few celebrated Christmas with more enthusiasm than Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt. For the President, the joy of Christmas was in ceremony and tradition; for the first lady, the joy was in the giving.

It was Eleanor who initiated Christmas planning each year. Her gift giving list included over 200 names. She began buying gifts in January and regularly put things away in her special "Christmas Closet." Throughout the year she added new items - gifts for family, friends, and almost everyone on the White House Staff. Each October, she would take over a storage room on the third floor of the White House to wrap the gifts. On Christmas, Franklin would be so interested in the gifts for others that it might be three or four days after Christmas before he was persuaded to open his own.

For the President, Christmas was a time for family and close friends. The tree was set up on Christmas Eve and the President directed his grandchildren in the placement of every ornament. After the tree was decorated, FDR had the grandchildren gather around while he read Charles Dickens' "A Christmas Carol." Following the reading, the children would race upstairs to the President's bedroom where they would hang their stockings on his mantel.

Our tree represents the 20 foot spruce tree that was set up in the East Room between the portraits of George and Martha Washington. The Roosevelts' tree was decorated entirely in silver and white and the toys for the children of the White House Staff were spread underneath.


F. Roosevelt

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