There’s a saying that everything is bigger in Texas, but the current holiday exhibit at the George W. Bush Presidential Center features both the great and the small in its re-creation of the 2002 White House Christmas. Located on the picturesque campus of Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas, the Center is celebrating a special holiday exhibit entitled, “All Creatures Great and Small: Christmas at the White House 2002,” which runs through January 13, 2015.
In 2002, Mrs. Laura Bush selected “All Creatures Great and Small” as the theme, to celebrate the joy and comfort pets have brought to presidents and their families during their time spent in the White House. Bush Presidential Library and Museum archivists and curators have recreated the 2002 White House holiday displays from the Bush’s second Christmas in White House.
The exhibit incorporates White House decorations from that time as well as behind-the-scenes photos and video. In choosing the 2002 holiday theme, the First Lady focused on the simple joys that her family’s pets provided during the difficult year following 9/11. “They really had given a lot of comfort to me in that year,” Mrs. Bush said during a recent tour of the exhibit.
At the center of the exhibit is a massive Christmas tree filled with ornaments of native birds handcrafted by artists and artisans from all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and U.S. territories. The favorite bird of Mrs. Bush is, of course, the Texas mockingbird, made by the late Fort Worth artist Scott Gentling.
The mockingbird is also featured in this year’s exhibit in a painting by her husband George W. Bush. The former president finished the work — a mockingbird eating possumhaw holly berries — for the Bushes’ annual Christmas card, but the painting fit in perfectly with this year’s theme and was included in the exhibit and used as the Bush Center’s official 2014 holiday ornament. “It’s so appropriate for this year,” Mrs. Bush said.
According to Kat McKinley, Bush Center Museum Store manager, the American-made ornament has been a huge hit. “Once we put the ornament on our store website, we sold over 1,000 ornaments in the first 24 hours,” she said. “To date, we’ve sold close to 4,000 ornaments, with orders continuing to come in from across the country as well as from around the world.”
The exclusively designed 2014 commemorative Christmas ornament is a three-dimensional metal ornament, modeled on White House Historical Association ornaments, and features President Bush’s painting of the Texas mockingbird.
The Bush Center Museum Store is also selling a host of gift items perfect for the holidays, including a “presidential” Stetson; signed copies of President Bush’s memoir of his father, 41: A Portrait of My Father; and for those who love all creatures great and small, a bobble-head of the Bushes’ late, beloved Scottish terrier, Barney.