JILL Biden faced an awkward moment as she read a Christmas story to children on Monday after one boy told her about his dead hamster.
The first lady had invited the youngsters to the White House to read from her picture book when one told her his pet had got stuck under a cage door.
"Oh my word. Ok, let’s move on to happier things," Dr Biden replied.
In the awkward clip the first lady had been speaking with the seven-to-eight-year-olds from a school in Maryland about their pets.
As children told her about their dogs, cats and horses, one boy said: "We used to have hamsters and hedgehogs but one went under the cage door and then suffocated."
Dr Biden – who teaches at Northern Virginia Community College – had invited the children to the White House as part of the official unveiling of this year's Christmas decorations.
She had been reading from her 2012 book Don’t Forget, God Bless Our Troops which was inspired by son Beau Biden's time in the military.
Dr Biden told the kids: "The Bidens are a military family."
She added: "When my son was away, my granddaughter really, really missed her daddy.
"So I wrote this book to tell other kids, because there’s lots of kids who don’t know what it’s like to be a military kid.
"And they don’t realise, sometimes it’s really hard."
The First Lady unveiled the official White House tree glowing in the Blue Room as she shared a snap with the millions of Twitter followers Monday.
The fir is covered in white doves bearing the names of US states in alphabetical order.
Some Twitter users asked “where are the colors?” while others branded the centerpiece “boring”.
But others were more sympathetic as they branded the design “refreshing”, while some said it marked the return to a “normal Christmas”.
One said: “Refreshing to see a tree in that house that isn’t gaudy or macabre. Thank you!”
Melania Trumps’s final White House Christmas display dubbed “America the Beautiful” was toned down and featured an array of red, white, and gold decorations.
But, in 2018, the cone-shaped, crimson trees that lined the White House corridors went viral online as they were compared to car washes.
“Gifts from the Heart” is the theme of Joe Biden’s first White House Christmas.
In their commemorative 2021 White House holiday guidebook, the Bidens wrote: “The things we hold sacred unite us and transcend distance, time, and even the constraints of a pandemic: faith, family, and friendship; a love of the arts, learning, and nature; gratitude, service, and community; unity and peace.
“These are the gifts that tie together the heartstrings of our lives. These are the gifts from the heart.”
There is a huge gingerbread White House that recognizes the efforts of frontline workers throughout the Covid-19 pandemic.
The executive mansion, including the Oval Office, was decorated with 41 Christmas trees, 2,000 yards of ribbon, and more than 10,000 ornaments while the Bidens were celebrating Thanksgiving.
FIRST HOLIDAY SEASON
Nearly 79,000 lights illuminate the trees, garlands, wreaths, and other holiday displays.
The Bidens said: "As we celebrate our first holiday season in the White House, we are inspired by the Americans we have met across the country, time and again reminding us that our differences are precious and our similarities infinite."
The arrival of the White House Christmas tree marks the start of the holiday festivities.
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