Kerry Kavanaugh one-on-one with First Lady Dr. Jill Biden about meaning behind holiday displays

WASHINGTON — Only Boston 25 News is taking you inside the White House this holiday season.

Anchor Kerry Kavanaugh got an exclusive invite from the First Lady to see the Christmas displays and chat with her one-on-one about the message behind all of them. Normally, people would be able to tour the East Wing for themselves. That’s still not possible during the ongoing pandemic. So, Dr. Biden invited just a handful of reporters from across the country to the White House as one way to bring the displays to the American people and her message of unity and peace this holiday season.

Christmas at the White House includes 41 Christmas trees, 10,000 ornaments and nearly 80,000 lights. But, to the First Lady it’s so much more than that.

“Educators and nurses and doctors and police and firefighters, and everybody was doing so much for their own communities. I wanted to say thank you,” Dr. Biden told Kavanaugh as they chatted in the State Dining Room.

The holiday theme, ‘Gifts from the Heart’ was inspired by the simple things that helped us all get through this pandemic. There are rooms dedicated to nature, learning, the arts and the love of family.

“The country is still healing. The country still country is divided,” Kavanaugh said. “Do you feel that? And is there any particular room or theme here speaks to unity to unifying the country?”

“Oh, my gosh, I think it’s throughout the house,” said Dr. Biden. “You know, if you notice, the doves that speaks to unity, and peace, and healing, like you said.”

One of the biggest symbols of unity the tree in the Blue Room, the official White House Christmas tree. It’s a tree dedicated to all 50 states and the U.S. territories, featuring all state names woven among doves.

There are many symbols of unity sprinkled into each display.

It’s all about bringing people back together. The First Lady aware of how difficult it’s been not to be able to sit and have a meal with loved ones.  The China room is dedicated to that idea of coming back together around a table this holiday season.

“Is there any room that you love the most or any element that you said, we absolutely have to do this,” Kavanaugh asked.

“Well, I think the doves, I really, I love the theme of peace,” said Dr. Biden. “What about you, Kerry, what do you like?”

“I think I love the library,” Kavanaugh responded. “And I wanted to talk to you about that room, too, because you’re a lifelong educator. We know teachers and students have struggled so much through the pandemic. They’re back in classrooms now. But in this pandemic, there’s this mental health crisis that’s playing out.”

“I see it with my own students, and I’m still in the classroom. I give final exams tomorrow. And I’ve seen a lot of anxiety,” Dr. Biden said. “Mental health is so important. And the President realizes that and that’s why he, you know, put money into mental health because so many people are suffering from the anxiety of this pandemic.”

In fact, there are tributes to everyone who gave so much.

The official gingerbread house is dedicated to first responders and frontline workers.

The poignant gold star tree is dedicated to those who gave everything for their country.

“And I’d like to ask your viewers if they would commit to an act of kindness for a military family,” Dr. Biden said.

She told Kavanaugh she knows how tough the last two years have been. But, she has hope to share.

“Do you have optimism,” Kavanaugh asked.

“Of course, I have optimism,” Dr. Biden said. “You cannot do this job if you don’t have optimism. I hope people are feeling like they can breathe again. I think that’s one of my jobs as First Lady is to go out into the country and acknowledge, you know, we are healing as a country.”

Dr. Biden says she hopes that can be part of her legacy as First Lady, playing a key role in helping heal the nation.

As we look to a new year, the First Lady told Kavanaugh she hopes she can continue to do more work promoting research and healing for people suffering with cancer, a battle she told me she’s been dedicated to since the 1990s.

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