Norman Senior Helps Decorate White House For Christmas


Tuesday, December 13th 2011, 7:02 pm
By: News 9


When it comes to Christmas, you're never too old to decorate. 

Shirley Smith may be in her early 80's, but that hasn't slowed down her decorating skills.  She just recently returned from helping to decorate the White House.

Last summer Shirley's son Doug was watching a television program about the volunteers who prepare the White House for the Christmas season.  He watched workers of all ages decorating and realized that his mother would be a good candidate for the crew.

He contacted the White House, received the application, filled it out, and waited.  Doug checked his e-mail daily, but only received confirmation in early October.  Shirley got the official invitation and Doug accompanied her to Washington D.C. the week of Thanksgiving.

The Smiths were assigned to the Blue Room Christmas tree, the one dedicated to the nation's military.  But there were other perks as well.

"One of the highlights was getting to eat in the state dining room every day for lunch," said Doug.  "And above the mantel was a beautiful portrait of Abraham Lincoln." 

On their last day at the White House, the volunteers were invited to a tea with First Lady Michelle Obama.

"We were hoping that the girls would be with her," Shirley said.  "They were not, I think they were still in school."

Shirley had toured the White House before, but had never been a part of the temporary staff.  She probably won't go back, since she would need one of her sons to accompany her again.  But Shirley wouldn't completely dismiss the idea.

"It would be very difficult for them to get away for as long as they needed," said Shirley.  "But y'know, I won't say never."