The holiday season has arrived at the White House and First lady Laura Bush gave The Early Show's Maggie Rodriguez a grand tour.
This year's theme, "A Red, White and Blue Christmas," celebrates the patriotic spirit that unites us as Americans.
"We thought it was perfect for an election year and for our last year here. It's also a theme that American's have suggested to me," Mrs. Bush said from the grand hallway.
Mindful of the economic plight, many of this year's decorations are recycled or repurposed.
"Just like every family, we recycled. And, of course, when red is one of your predominant colors, that's easy," Mrs. Bush said. "We also used LED lights on the trees, which are much more energy efficient."
Many of this year's decorations were used in past Christmases.
Located in the Blue Room, the official White House Christmas tree is an 18 1/2-foot-tall Fraser fir from Crumpler, N.C. In fact, all 27 White House Christmas trees this year come from the Tar Heel State.
To decorate it, Mrs. Bush handed out round silver balls to all 535 members of Congress and asked them to pick artists to decorate the ornaments for the tree.
The ornaments are supposed to feature something special about each congressional district, and include ones from the offices of Senators Clinton, Obama, Biden and McCain.
Artists of all ages participated. Mrs. Bush says the oldest is a 90-year-old man and the youngest is 8-year-old girl from Virginia with a brain tumor.
Another tradition at the White House is an exact gingerbread replica of the White House's North Portico. It features replicas of the Bush family pets in a sleigh on the roof and cookies fashioned after the Old Guard Fife and Drum Corps.
Covered in more than 350 pounds of white chocolate, the sweet creation weighs about 475 pounds.
Mrs. Bush says her final Christmas in the White House is bittersweet, but she looks forward to going home to Texas.
"It's with mixed emotions. You know when you move here you that you'll just have four years or eight years if you're re-elected. So you know all that time that there will be a day that you leave," she said. "Of course, we've been here on the day when other presidents, like President George H.W. Bush, left. So I think from them, George and Barbara Bush -- our father and mother -- we have a really good example of life after the White House. So we look forward to it."
"We say goodbye with great gratitude to everybody here that works at the White House -- both the people who work here for every president, as well as, obviously, the people who work here for us that will be going on themselves."
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