The bows are tied, the garlands are hung, and the White House is aglow for the holidays. Volunteers from all over the country handled the decorations with care, and on Wednesday, first lady Michelle Obama showed off their efforts to military families. This year's theme is "Joy to All."
Ship Capt. Pete Hall from Louisville, Ky., followed family tradition by helping with the decorations. His grandfather was the chief usher of the White House from 1938 to 1957. "So this is part of my family heritage," Hall says.
Chris Schwartz of Portland, Ore., came to the White House with his partner, a military officer in the Oregon Air National Guard, who felt that the repeal of Don't Ask Don't Tell opened the door for them to be a part of the annual ritual.
"I've never been to the White House before," Schwartz says, "but to be able to come under these circumstances and under these terms, it's emotionally overwhelming. It really is."
Copyright 2012 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.