Bidens to spend Christmas with family at the White House

The 2021 edition of the Biden family Christmas will look much as it has over the past few decades, with one notable exception: the location.

Instead of celebrating in Wilmington, Delaware, as is their tradition, the Bidens will spend this Christmas at the White House. The request to relocate family holiday festivities came from the first couple’s grandchildren who will file into town for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, according to the first lady’s press secretary Michael LaRosa.

A photo of President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden sits on a Christmas tree in the State Dining Room of the White House.

Evan Vucci / AP

The president, first lady, their children and grandchildren are expected to attend mass Friday in Washington and then retire to the executive mansion for a pasta dinner and a sleepover — both Biden family Christmas Eve customs.

LaRosa said the president will partake in his annual ritual of “flocking” the Christmas tree (decorating it with faux snow), something he’s done since childhood. “It drives the first lady crazy” because of the mess it makes, LaRosa said.

“We’ve built a lot of traditions over the years and one of my jobs is to keep them going. In our most turbulent times, they are the scaffolding we cling to,” the first lady wrote in her 2019 memoir. One of the traditions she wrote about was a family-wide secret Santa gift exchange on Christmas Eve, but it’s unclear if the Bidens will do that this year.

The White House is decorated for the holiday season on Nov. 29, 2021, in Washington.

Evan Vucci / AP

Earlier in the day, the first couple visited patients at Children’s National Hospital in Washington, the first time a sitting president has visited during the holidays.

“We have our stockings hung already,” Dr. Biden said.  

On Saturday, the Bidens will wake up and open presents stashed under the tree on the third-floor White House residence, LaRosa said. Then, as they have for years, the Biden grandchildren will scatter around the country to see other family members. LaRosa said the president’s grandchildren, Hunter and Natalie, will be with their mother Hallie, widow of the Bidens’ late son Beau, and grandchildren Naomi, Finnegan and Maisy are expected to visit family out of town. The Bidens’ children, Ashley and Hunter, will head out Sunday.

President Biden Attends National Christmas Tree Lighting
The White House during the National Christmas Tree lighting on the Ellipse in Washington, D.C., Dec. 2, 2021. 

Oliver Contreras/Sipa/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Before they leave town, Dr. Biden plans to carry on yet one more ritual: sending off family members with homemade bacon-egg-and-cheese sandwiches for the road.

“The house always sounds too quiet after everyone leaves,” Dr. Biden wrote in her book, adding that she usually spends the rest of the day with her sisters. LaRosa said she’ll do that again this year.

Also on Saturday, the first lady is expected to join her husband on a phone call with servicemen and women stationed around the world, LaRosa said.

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