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Decking the halls

Nicole Barber-White and her husband, Master Sgt. James White, 8th Intelligence Squadron flight chief, conclude their time decorating the White House for the holidays in Washington, D.C., Nov. 28, 2020. Barber-White started decorating the homes of the president and vice president in 2012, and her husband began in 2017. (Courtesy Photo)

Nicole Barber-White and her husband, Master Sgt. James White, 8th Intelligence Squadron flight chief, conclude their time decorating the White House for the holidays in Washington, D.C., Nov. 28, 2020. Barber-White started decorating the homes of the president and vice president in 2012, and her husband began in 2017. (Courtesy Photo)

JOINT BASE PEARL HARBOR-HICKAM, Hawaii --

Holiday decorations at the White House are not only part of the capital’s tradition during the winter season, but an Air Force family’s too.

Nicole Barber-White and her husband, Master Sgt. James White, 8th Intelligence Squadron flight chief, were selected to decorate the White House for the holidays.

“Each time I walk into the White House, I don't take it for granted,” said Barber-White. “I think it’s great and it doesn't get old for me.”

Barber-White started decorating the White House and the Naval Observatory in 2012 and her husband joined her in 2017.

This year, White served as lead decorator for the Oval Office and his wife fulfilled the same role for the Red Room.

White was also requested by the Secret Service to assist with golden eagle tree toppers in the State Dining Room, which he did the year prior.

“This year’s theme was America the Beautiful, which captured what makes us unique,” said White. “Each room had a different theme. The Red Room was for essential workers, the Green Room was a celebration of nature, and the East Room was themed to celebrate transportation.”

The Gold Star Family Christmas tree is an agreed-upon favorite by Barber-White and her husband.

“As an active-duty military spouse, it makes you appreciate your loved one even more,” said Barber-White.

Decorating the White House has not only become a new tradition, but also a unique way to spend time together as a couple.

“We get to share the experience together and I’m looking forward to it now on a yearly basis,” said White. “I would not want to go myself, and if I'm going, I want to be there with the person who’s the reason why I’m there.”

Due to COVID-19, volunteers were tested upon landing, practiced social distancing, wore masks while decorating, and were limited to a group of 70 volunteers, almost half the size of previous years.