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First lady Jill Biden unveils White House holiday decorations

Evan Vucci/AP
Santa Claus is coming to town: A papier-mâché Saint Nick and his reindeer fly across the grand foyer.
Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images
It's beginning to feel a lot like Christmas at the White House.
Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images
All I want for Christmas: Letters to Santa fly across a ground floor corridor.
Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images
Do you hear what I hear? Decorations in the Vermeil Room celebrate music and performance, complete with a mechanical theater featuring rotating United States Marine Band figures.
Evan Vucci/AP
The little engine that could: A vintage toy train chugs around the base of a Christmas tree in the Blue Room.
Evan Vucci/AP
Deck the halls: The White House's China Room transformed into a dessert shop, tables laden with festive treats.
Evan Vucci/AP
'Twas the night before Christmas: A peaceful scene in the library celebrates the quiet magic of bedtime stories.

By Christy Choi and Sam Fossum, CNN

(CNN) — Complete with 98 Christmas trees, 72 wreaths and 2.8 miles of ribbon, the White House has been transformed into a classic winter wonderland for the holidays.

Letters to Santa Claus appear to fly magically in and out of old mailboxes and a vintage train weaves around the base of an 18.5-foot Fraser fir Christmas tree, while all manner of candied treats deck the halls — including a huge gingerbread White House.

Unveiling the decorations Monday, first lady Jill Biden said this year’s theme, the “Magic, Wonder and Joy” of the holiday season, was inspired by “childlike marvel and awe.”

“Children are unbound by time and inherently know beauty: the rich, colorful mosaic of autumn leaves piled high on an emerald blanket of grass; the mesmerizing rhythm of soft, powdery snow as it falls from a glistening night sky,” said Biden as she welcomed  National Guard and local military families to the White House as the first guests to experience the holiday décor.

“The holidays offer a time for reflection and a break from our hurried lives, a season to be fully present with our friends and our families. It’s also a season of gratitude,” she added.

“Because, you know, children have something to teach us if we’re wise enough to listen: how to remain present, even as a busy world beckons us; how to open ourselves up to love and wonder and to marvel at every moment, no matter how ordinary; how to find beauty at a Metro stop.”

Each room, she said, is designed to capture children’s “pure, unfiltered delight and imagination.”

The decorations, which also included 33,892 ornaments and 142,425 holiday lights, were installed over a week, with the help of more than 300 volunteers.

The White House expects some 100,000 people to visit during the holiday season.

Earlier this year, the White House Historical Association unveiled the design of this year’s official Christmas ornament — a holiday wreath adorned with cherubs, dolls, doves, stars, flowers, gingerbread men and more — that was inspired by handcrafted decorations used during the administration of America’s 38th president, Gerald Ford.

Previous years’ ornaments have included a fire truck, a steam train and even a helicopter. The decorations are not only meant to brighten people’s homes but are also intended to shine a light on lesser-known stories from America’s past.

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Scroll down to see more photos of this year’s White House holiday decorations.

Article Topic Follows: Holidays

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