Top Ten Things Not to Do at the Lighting of the First National Christmas Tree at the White House by Calvin Coolidge in 1923

Top Ten Things Not to Do

This post ran last year at this time. Since the history news is pretty light this week, I decided to run it again. Wishing you a terrific Holiday.

This week marks the anniversary of the lighting of the first national Christmas tree on the White House grounds by Calvin Coolidge on Christmas Eve in 1923. The tree was a balsam fir from Vermont and stood 48 feet high. It was also the first time electricity was used to light the green and red bulbs. In the spirit of the season, we need to go there and take part in the ceremony. Don’t forget to pack this list. We don’t want any accidents in the time continuum.

Top Ten Things Not to do at the Lighting of the First National Christmas Tree in 1923.

10 If you go, do not start singing “Rocking Around the Christmas Tree.” If you do, at best, everyone will believe you were overserved with Wassel. At worst, you’ll raise questions about this thing called “rock.” (Now you’ve done it, Julius. You are singing a song released in 1958, and trust me, brother, you are no Brenda Lee.)

9 If you go, do not ignore the warnings of Tiny, the WWF champ, to stay behind the ropes. If you do, at best, you’ll get a shove that will return you to behind the lines. At worst, Tiny, who missed his last five self-esteem group meetings, will take personal offense that you didn’t listen to him. (Don’t worry, Jamal. Tiny will tire of spinning you above his head and give you a toss. Good thing, there is snow on the ground. Oh, I didn’t see that rock where you landed. That had to have hurt.)

8 If you go, do not mess with the extension cord running from the White House to the tree. If you do, at best only the tree lights will go out. At worst, you will be the cause of the East Coast grid going down. (How embarrassing for Mr. Coolidge. Here he wanted to do something beautiful for the country, and instead, the population is shivering in their dark hovels on Christmas. I couldn’t have invented a more “Grinch stole Christmas” story if I tried, Jon. Thanks.)

7 If you go, do not take more than one sugar cookie. If you do, at best, some others will not want theirs. At worst, you will have eaten a cookie that would have marked the difference between a joyous Christmas and a dismal one for a sweet child. Wow another story, Joey. You are some muse.)

6 If you go, do not think you can join the Epiphany Church choir in singing Christmas carols. If you do, at best, the members will drown you out. At worst, you’ll take a solo part causing multiple shatterings of the White House Waterford crystal. (Talk about not being invited back next year, Jermaine. Mrs. Coolidge is in tears, and Calvin looks like he is going to explode.)

5 If you go, do not forget to take a gift. If you do, at best, no one will notice. At worse, Calvin will let you know that all the presents received are being given to the orphanage. (You might want to run down to the five and dime and pick something up, Jax. No, taking one from the plie just won’t cut it.)

4 If you go, do not remove one of the 2500 bulbs on the tree, thinking it would make a great souvenir. If you do, at best, no one will miss it. At worst, once you remove the bulb, the rest go dark. (This is 1923, Jeffery. Way before the invention of the parallel circuit light string where the others stay lit. )

3 If you go, do not forget to take off your wet boots before traipsing through the White House. If you do, at best, others will too. At worst, the head custodian of the White House will make sure you clean up the mess. (Also, Jefferson, the head custodian, is Tiny’s brother, Bigen. It looks like you will be mopping floors for a very long time.)

2 If you go, do not think you can take an ornament off the inside tree. If you do, at best security will let you put it back. At worst, you will be charged with attempting to steal government property. (Benjamin Harrison was the first to set up a tree in the White House in 1889. You just managed to grab one of the original ornaments, Jarrod. This just may be a capital crime. At least Calvin thinks so.)

1 If you go, do not bring out your “Save the Trees” protest sign. If you do, at best, you’ll get raised eyebrows. At worst, Calvin will ask the Marine Band to play some traveling music while the secret service escorts you to Pennsylvania Avenue. (Nothing like a grand exit, Jules. You certainly will be talked about, especially since you caught your trousers on the iron fence after being tossed over. The hit song Moon over Pennsylvania captured the moment.)

56 comments

  1. I don’t think the shirt in #1 would work well today either. Strange how this is a slow history week. You’d think a lot would happen around Christmas.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. There were a lot of folks dying and war events, but I don’t cover those.

      Like

  2. mmm burn the tree? well, sorry, don’t wanna get too many raised eyebrows. 😢😬😱

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Only one cookie? Tough times! Thanks for sharing, John. This was just as great the second time around. πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Jill.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Gwen M. Plano · · Reply

    Thanks for sharing a second time, John. I had forgotten most of your points — so it was a great read! 😊

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Gwen. You are so nice to say so. 😁

      Liked by 1 person

  5. How about I put a dimmer on the lights ? They can fade in and out.
    What kind of conspiracy theories would pop out of that? πŸŽ„πŸŽ„πŸ˜΅

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You might even get the secret service to pay you a visit. They wouldn’t be so secret to you. πŸ˜‚

      Liked by 1 person

      1. It’s okay. It’s a secret to everyone else. 😁

        Liked by 1 person

  6. Tiny has a brother? Who knew?I better wait for the story in the newspapers. I’m still recovering from last week.

    Great list, John.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Dan. 😁

      Liked by 1 person

  7. A worthy rerun. Thanks, John!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Teri.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Ah, things were so much simpler then! Maybe add, do not try to take a selfie with the tree. Tiny might take offense! And people would wonder what the heck you are doing waving that ‘thing’ on a stick around.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Good one, Noelle.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Great to revisit this one.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I’d forgotten this from last year, John, so thanks for the repeat. Those wet boots trampling through the White House would cause all sorts of trouble, wouldn’t they?

    Liked by 1 person

  11. I knew about the time Churchill was visiting FDR who let him have the honors. I also remember the West Wing Episode when President Bartlett let’s his grandson flip the switch, but I had no idea, the tradition began with none other than, Silent Cal. I’m over the moon John, tucking it in my pres. file. πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Cal was de man who did start it all. Im glad you liked this one too. 😊

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Of course I did…it’s right up my historical alley, if you will. πŸ™‚

        Liked by 1 person

  12. PS…I didn’t have the pleasure of reading it the first time you ran it. πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh good. I’m so glad.

      Liked by 1 person

  13. Great idea, dear John! May every year be 1923! It sounds pretty optimistic & innovative! πŸ˜β˜ΊπŸŽ„πŸŽ„πŸŽ„πŸ§¨

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think living like it is 1923 is an excellent idea. 😊

      Liked by 3 people

      1. It would add some particular spirit to our days!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. And eliminate other thoughts. !923 was a year of prosperity and no war.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Very wise, dear John. Now more than ever we need a historical breath to cure our own reality.

        Liked by 1 person

      4. I agree. Let’s hope 2021 is like 1923

        Liked by 1 person

  14. A great post for Christmas week, John! Merry Christmas to you and yours!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Jan. Merry Christmas to you.

      Like

  15. This was a lot of fun! Festive and Silent Cal don’t seem to go together. In every photo I’ve ever seen of him at a public event, particuarly those of a ceremonial nature, he’s wearing that just-shoot-me-now face. I’ll bet the tree was his wife’s idea.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hahaha. You may be right. In any case he saw it through.

      Like

  16. A respectable choice for a rerun, I say!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you. 😊

      Liked by 1 person

  17. …and leave that face mask at the gate.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hahaha. 1923 was a golden year.

      Like

  18. D.L. Finn, Author · · Reply

    I enjoyed this more second time around:)

    Liked by 1 person

  19. I so enjoyed reading this again, John. It’s like getting a second homemade chocolate chip cookie.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. What a great analogy, Jennie. You know how the cookie tastes but you enjoy the experience anyway. 😁

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Exactly! πŸ™‚

        Liked by 1 person

  20. As always a little fun and humor with the history lesson. πŸ˜€ It’s still good the second time around too!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Deborah

      Liked by 1 person

  21. So no stealing an ornament for my personal collection and no chaining myself around the tree to make a political statement. Got it!

    PS- But I won’t make any promises . . .

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The guys in 1923 had a different view of handling miscreants, Pilgrim. A good old rubber hose took care of most issue.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. On second thought, maybe I’ll just observe.

        Liked by 1 person

  22. I guess I’ll leave our cat at home, since she loves to play ‘lumberjack’ with Christmas trees. πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You can leave the beaver at home too. 😁

      Liked by 1 person

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