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Ballerinas help kick off Christmas

WASHINGTON (AP) — Ballerinas leaping to the strains of Tchaikovsky’s “The Nutcracker” helped launch Christmas at the White House, featuring a traditional decor that Melania Trump chose for her family’s first holiday season in the White House.

The first lady’s theme is “Time-Honored Traditions,” a nod to 200 years of holiday celebrations at the executive mansion.

“The decorations are up!” Mrs. Trump tweeted Monday morning. “@WhiteHouse is ready to celebrate! Wishing you a Merry Christmas & joyous holiday season!”

Among the new touches this year: On the outside, wreaths topped with red bows adorn every White House window. Inside, glistening wintry branches line both sides of an East Wing hallway that leads guests to a tree decorated with the Trump family’s official Christmas ornament, a gold-toned bauble featuring the presidential coat of arms surrounded by a wreath of holly.

The first lady’s office previewed the decorations for journalists on Monday before welcoming students from a nearby military base in Maryland to see the decorations and try some holiday-themed arts and crafts, such as building gumdrop trees and decorating garland.

“Are you the first lady?” asked one incredulous boy who then moved in for a hug. Classmates quickly followed for hugs of their own.

Wearing a winter white dress with cape-like sleeves and gold-toned heels, Mrs. Trump descended a staircase from the residence to the Grand Foyer and spent a few minutes taking in the ballerinas before she joined a group of children making paper wreaths and other decorations in the State Dining Room.

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