If you've ever been to RL Restaurant, you would know Rich Varnes, the charming general manager there since 2001. His friendly face has greeted everyone from Oprah to Justin Bieber at this much loved spot on Chicago Avenue. So it was no surprise that he would also have the opportunity to meet Valerie Jarrett, President Obama's Chief of Staff, on her visit for lunch on Election Day. They struck up a conversation and he casually mentioned that he will have to get Eleanor King, his darling 7 1/2 year old daughter, to Washington sometime soon. Well, as luck would have it, Jarrett replied, "Why don't you bring her to a White House holiday party?" This was music to Rich's ears and he immediately planned the trip with wife Cynthia King (an attorney) and, of course, dear Eleanor whose joys in life include horses, swimming and fairies.
Cynthia related to me that this was one of many holiday parties the Obamas host in December. They have a special one for the press, one for members of Congress and then assorted parties for their other supporters/campaign workers/friends, etc. For this year's theme, the First Lady chose their family dog, Bo. On every tree (Cynthia and Eleanor counted more than 20), there was an ornament of Bo and children were encouraged to find it during the scavenger hunt. There were also "Bo" cookies and after Eleanor ate one, they turned her teeth black with the chocolate icing. President Obama jokingly mentioned this during his welcome speech.
Other holiday decor included a gingerbread house created to look like the White House and Michelle's kitchen garden recreated as a dessert display. A choir also performed throughout the evening.
The following photos, taken by Cynthia King, shows the White House at its holiday best. What incredible memories this wonderful family shared and as Cynthia told Eleanor, "Well, you just peaked at 7 1/2!"
And that's what a White House Christmas is all about! Now 'ya know!