White House Holidays

About the Books

Seasons Greetings From The White House

Season's Greetings BookSeason’s Greetings from the White House is the first book devoted primarily to Presidential Christmas gifts and cards, all of which have been beautifully reproduced, chronologically recorded and historically documented. More than just behind-the-scenes stories and First Family recollections are accounts of national and world events surrounding the time of Christmas. This eighth edition documents nearly a century of Christmases at the White House. It tells the stories of Presidential Christmas cards, messages, gifts and holiday decorations from Calvin Coolidge to Donald J. Trump.

Interwoven with the personal recollections of First Family members are accounts of national and world events surrounding the time of Christmas and how these affected the family’s holiday celebrations—even when the events included a terrorist attack on American soil, Presidential impeachment and the election of a First Lady to the U.S. Senate. As the first single volume to bring together selected Presidential tree-lighting speeches, Season’s Greetings from the White House is truly a mini-history of America dating back to 1923 and Calvin Coolidge’s first National Christmas Tree.

Season’s Greetings shares the personal experiences of artists whose works came to grace Presidential cards and gift prints. Adrian Martinez admits growing up only seven blocks from the White House and walked past it everyday. Years later he was asked to paint the art for the Bushes first Christmas card. Jamie Wyeth tells why he painted squirrel tracks in the snow leading up to the North Portico for Reagan’s 1984 Christmas card and the challenge he had in painting the Bushes pets for their 2005 card; Thomas W. Jones not only painted four interiors for the Reagan’s last four years, but was commissioned by the author to paint a new cover for Season’s Greetings in 2000. Thomas McKnight relates how he created the first contemporary Red Room, Blue Room and Green Room paintings for Clinton Presidential cards and gift prints; Cecil Stoughton, as the President’s personal photographer, recalls the Kennedy sleigh ride on the White House lawn. The photo he took was subsequently “airbrushed within an inch of its life” for use on the 1962 Christmas card. Dwight Eisenhower painted his own art for six of his eight gift prints. Other artists whose stories unfold include Mark Hampton, Edward Lehman, James Steinmeyer, Ray Ellis, James Blake, David Drummond, Tim Allen Lawson, Chris Hankinson and Kay Jackson, the first woman to paint the First Family’s card. Larassa Kabel and Emily Buchanan followed in her footsteps painting art for the Obama's cards.

To bring in historical color, the author interviewed, in addition to Laura Bush, four other former First Ladies, namely Nancy Reagan, Barbara Bush, Rosalynn Carter and Betty Ford, and several children of First Families. Among the warmly human tales is John Coolidge’s revelation that his father’s “drag-along” handshake enabled him to survive several thousand handshakes at a single New Year’s Day reception – while his mother’s hand would be so swollen that her glove had to be cut off.

For those who lived through it, for those who didn’t and want to know what it was like, for Americana fans, for Christmas collectors, for art lovers, for anyone excited by a “good read,” Season’s Greetings from the White House makes an excellent gift for the holidays. Season’s Greetings from the White House is truly a mini-history of America. It is the best-selling book on the market about Christmas at the White House.

EIGHTH edition published SEPT 2018; 352 pages; hardbound; 9 x 11-1/8; 184 total photographs, 150 in full color; $45.00. Published by A Presidential Christmas Corporation, 16612 Millan de Avila, Tampa, FL 33613.

Table of Contents

Chapter I

THE COOLIDGES: Beginning of a Tradition

Chapter II

THE HOOVERS: Depression, Drought and a Natural Disaster

Chapter III

THE ROOSEVELTS: The Twelve Years of Christmas

Chapter IV

THE TRUMANS: Home for the Holidays

Chapter V

THE EISENHOWERS: Art from a Painting President

Chapter VI

THE KENNEDYS: Art, History and Christmas

Chapter VII

THE JOHNSONS: Presidential Paintings on Parchment

Chapter VIII

THE NIXONS: White House as Open House

Chapter IX

THE FORDS: An Old Fashioned Christmas

Chapter X

THE CARTERS: The President’s House

Chapter XI

THE REAGANS: Years of Young Artists

Chapter XII

THE GEORGE BUSHES: The First Family of Firsts

Chapter XIII

THE CLINTONS: A Contemporary Christmas

Chapter XIV

THE GEORGE W. BUSHES: Christmas in a New Kind of World

Chapter XV

THE OBAMAS: Christmas at the People's House

Chapter XVI

THE TRUMPS: Christmas Steeped in Tradition


Insider stories include:

The first National Christmas Tree and Calvin Coolidge's walk to the park to light it in 1923.

FDR's undeterred love of Christmas during 12 years of war and peace.

Truman’s Christmas gift that arrived on his birthday

The paintings by Dwight Eisenhower for his Christmas gift prints to his White House staff.

The Jacqueline Kennedy sleigh ride on the South lawn that became a 1962 Christmas card.

LBJ's Christmas party for members of Congress on five hours' notice.

Pat Nixon's unheralded acquisitions and restoration of the White House.

The $7 painting that became the art for Gerald Fords 1976 gift print.

The Carters, who "knew more about American furniture and American art than any other First Family in the twentieth century."

Ronald Reagan, the only President to have the National Christmas Tree lit on his Inauguration Day.

Barbara Bush, cherry picker queen, with a record-setting 12 rides to the top of the National Tree.

The Clintons' in-person Christmas shopping attempts in Georgetown and Union Station.

White House tours closed before George W. Bush's first Christmas there.

How the Obamas' Christmas cards and decorations went to the dogs - Bo and Sunny.

Donald Trump's campaign promise to bring back "Merry Christmas."

Enjoyed by the First Families:

"We love Season's Greetings from the White House. Beautifully done, Mary--truly wonderful. Thanks so much for our personally inscribed copy. Good luck, and warm regards from this happily retired former first couple."
-George Bush


"What a lovely volume! Thumbing through your book was a nostalgia trip back in time as I came across many familiar names, places, and, oh, the photos! I know some stories about other first families' holiday practices, but I can't wait to learn something new about each family in your book."
-Lady Bird Johnson


"Thank you for sending us a copy of Season's Greetings from the White House with your kind inscription. We are delighted to have it for our personal library and appreciate your thoughtfulness in remembering us."
-Jimmy Carter


"...When you put the book together, it was a pleasure to share with you the holiday traditions we enjoyed during our eight years in the White House. Your book certainly preserves for all Americans an important but often overlooked part of presidential history."
-Nancy Reagan


"Thank you for the inscribed copy of your very beautiful White House Christmas book. I hope you find many people who enjoy this special look at the White House. It is a fascinating story."
-Julie Nixon Eisenhower


"Thank you so much for sending me a copy of your book. It looks fascinating and I truly am looking forward to reading it."
-Caroline Kennedy


"Congratulations! This will be a treasure!"
-Betty Ford


"Thanks so much for the copies of your book. It's always a pleasure to receive works like yours that provide historical insight into the White House traditions. Hillary and I appreciate your thoughtfulness."
-Bill Clinton

Endorsements

Season's Greetings from the White House is far more than a documentation of Christmas cards and messages. Mary Seeley's extensive research enables her to share the human side of Christmas at the White House. This is a great accomplishment and the book will be used for ever and ever.
- REX SCOUTEN, CURATOR, THE WHITE HOUSE

Mary Seeley's historical collection of holiday cards from the White House offers a fascinating glimpse of our nation's culture and its values through the years. With direct involvement from the Presidents and First Ladies, the designs and messages of these cards truly reflect the personalities of our leaders and their special relationship with the American people.
- DONALD J. HALL, CHAIRMAN OF THE BOARD, HALLMARK CARDS, INC.

Mary Seeley has put together an important work on a unique genre within the greeting card industry. The greetings spotlighted here are not only an important part of our nation's history, but also a tribute to the talent, creativity and quality American Greetings associates invest in their jobs every day.
- MORRY WEISS, CHAIRMAN AND CEO, AMERICAN GREETINGS

Congratulations! A great amount of work . . . an exceptionally fine job . . . a labor of love and it shows!
- NEAL MACHANDER, PRESIDENT, AMERICAN POLITICAL ITEMS COLLECTORS

It was a great privilege and a wonderful challenge to design the official greeting cards for the Presidents and their families. At Hallmark, we always consider not only the personality of the sender but the expectations of the individual receiving the card. With White House holiday cards, we also had to place the weight of the office in the balance. Season's Greetings from the White House is a compendium of First Familities' efforts to make life in a public edifice a very personal matter as well.
- JEANETTE LEE, HALLMARK CARDS CONSULTANT (35-year veteran)

Congratulations on a terrific book! What a wonderful contribution to future researchers; it is a major scholarly effort. This book is a must for all collectors.
- RALEIGH DeGEER AMYX, CEO, AMERICAN HERITAGE AUTOGRAPHS & COLLECTIBLES

Other Books

Grandmother Remembers Christmas at The White House

Grandmother Remembers Christmas at The White House introduces children to fourteen presidents beginning with Calvin Coolidge through George W. Bush. It presents them as real people with their own traditions, hobbies and interests, and shows how these play out at Christmastime. Dwight Eisenhower, for example, painted the art for his Christmas cards. Lyndon Johnson had a Texas-size Christmas stocking embellished with mementos of his home state. Franklin Roosevelt was the biggest Christmas fan who ever lived in the White House and made it into a three-day festival.

First Ladies also got involved. Laura Bush joined her husband in also reading to the children at the Christmas story hour. Barbara Bush rode a cherry picker to the top of the National Christmas Tree to place the star a record-breaking 12 times; invariably she took along one or two of her grandchildren. Betty Ford invited Big Bird to come to entertain the children of foreign diplomats at a White House party. Pat Nixon initiated the gingerbread house tradition and Christmastime candlelight tours of the White House public rooms. Eleanor Roosevelt began her Christmas shopping on January 2 and filled her Christmas closet all year long.

These stories and many more make the Presidents and their families accessible to young readers. Parents, grandparents and teachers also have the opportunity to brush up on their history, though, through the book’s historical notes. These begin with a description of the first Christmas spent in the White House by the John Adams family when the unfinished structure was cold, drafty and quite uncomfortable. Jumping to the Calvin Coolidge administration of the 1920’s, the notes present a highlight event of each holiday since, including Christmas of 2001, when memories and threats of terrorism loomed large in the minds of George W. and Laura Bush and everyone else.

The story of the Presidents at Christmas is related by grandmother Mary Evans Seeley interacting with her own grandchildren, Tori, Andrew and Elizabeth Bragg. In December 1999, Mary Seeley introduced her three oldest grandchildren to the White House, where they saw the White House tree in the Blue Room and the traditional gingerbread house in the State Dining Room. In 2006 they returned to the White House at Christmas to see the decorations. Currently, the children have all graduated from Samford University in Birmingham, AL and lead productive lives.

As a companion, these make a great gift combo for the history-loving family.

Third edition published July 2005; 48 pages; hardbound; 8-1/4 x 10-1/4; illustrated in full color by award-winning artist Terri Sopp Rae; $16.95. Published by A Presidential Christmas Corporation, 16612 Millan de Avila, Tampa, FL 33613.

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