I don’t like it when retailers start focusing on Christmas well before Thanksgiving. And if it were up to me, I would have all stores be closed on Thanksgiving to allow employees to spend the day with their families. I’d even be okay with stores staying closed on Black Friday. However, I don’t mind when some early signs of the holiday, such as the many Christmas decorations that adorn the city during the holiday season, start appearing in November. For example, as I was riding through Lafayette Square Park on this lunchtime bike ride, I was happy to see a sign advertising a Christmas exhibit of gingerbread houses was already open. So I decided to stop and check into it. When I asked the very helpful lady at the entrance about the exhibit, she told me no one else was currently there. So with the place all to myself, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to take the self-guided tour right then.
The holiday exhibit is sponsored by the White House Historical Association, and is entitled “White House Gingerbread: Holiday Traditions.” The exhibit celebrates the official national gingerbread house created each year by the White House’s executive chef, and explores the tradition of gingerbread at the White House dating back to the Nixon administration. The main display features the largest gingerbread White House ever designed by the chef. And surrounding it are gingerbread panels illustrating many of the White House’s neighboring buildings, such as the Old Executive Office Building, the U.S. Treasury Department Building, and St. John’s Episcopal Church, to name just a few. The exhibit also incorporates examples of marzipan figures and sugar sculptures that have accompanied and accented many of the gingerbread houses over the years.
The exhibit also features photographs of the various types of gingerbread houses of different presidential administrations, including the Obama Administration’s version from last year, with historical information of each. Along with the wide variety of gingerbread houses, many of the photographs also feature the inhabitants of the White House. While I enjoyed each of the houses, I guess I am somewhat of a gingerbread house traditionalist, because I did not favor the more recent creations. Dating back to the George W. Bush Administration, the most recent houses have been made out of white chocolate rather than gingerbread. I hope this trend ends soon and they return to the old-fashioned gingerbread.
The “White House Gingerbread: Holiday Traditions” exhibit is on display at Decatur House on Lafayette Square, which is located at 1610 H Street in northwest D.C. (MAP). It is open from 10:00am – 3:00pm, Monday through Saturday, and will remain open and free to the public through December 22nd. I highly recommend stopping by if you’re in the area, or even planning a specific trip to see it and the many other Christmas decorations throughout the national capital city during the upcoming holiday season.