Jimmy and Rosalyn Carter

A Victorian Christmas, 1980

Victorian Christmas Tree

Christmas is Christmas whether it is celebrated in Plains, Georgia or Washington, D.C. and the Carter family celebrated in both locations during their time in the presidency. In preparing for 11 straight days of holiday entertaining, the White House was decorated for Christmas, but not to the extent of previous administrations. The budget was tight, so holiday decorations and entertainment had to be scaled back.

One of the most interesting and controversial aspects of the Carters Presidential Christmases concerned greeting cards. In 1977, the Carters ordered and sent 60,000 Christmas cards, substantially more than any previous administration. In 1978, the number jumped to 100,000 and in 1979 when there were 105,000, President Carter finally established a White House committee to look into the problem of too many Christmas cards!

The hostage crisis in Iran dominated the holiday celebrations of 1979 and 1980. In 1979, the National Christmas Tree and fifty surrounding trees each showed a single light, one for each of the hostages. The President promised to turn on the other lights when the hostages were freed. Because the hostages were still in captivity, the following year the lights on the tree were turned on for 417 seconds on Christmas Eve--one second for each day they had been held.


F. Roosevelt

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