Laura Bush sentimental over leaving White House

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In her last Christmas in the White House, First Lady Laura Bush said she is starting to feel sentimental about what she'll be leaving.

Yesterday, Mrs. Bush held an occasionally misty-eyed chat with the press as she previewed White House Christmas decorations in advance of the 21 receptions and 4 dinners she and the president will host for friends, politicians, diplomats, and the press.

During the holiday season, some 60,000 visitors are expected to tour the festively decorated mansion filled with 27 trees decorated in red, white, and blue.

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The session was notable for Mrs. Bush’s introspective and sentimental statements, according to press pool reports. When asked if she were sad to be leaving the White House, the First Lady responded, “That's right, I mean, it's mixed emotions. I'm sad to leave all the people that I've liked so much and that I've had a chance to build a friendship with over the years that I've been here. I'm sad to leave this beautiful house.”

Long memories of a special place

Because two members of the Bush family served as president, Mrs. Bush has long memories of this special house. She grew misty-eyed talking about chief White House florist Nancy Clarke. “This is going to make me weep and make her weep, too,” the First Lady said.

Mrs. Bush said her young twin daughters – Barbara and Jenna -- watched more than 100 units march in their grandfather’s inaugural parade. When the exhausted girls came inside, “Nancy was the one that met them at the door, and she took them to the flower shop and let them make a little bouquet for their rooms. And they'll never forget it, and it was such a really sweet way for little seven-year-olds to be introduced to the White House,” she said.

Finding hope in history

Mrs. Bush, dressed in a red Oscar de la Renta wool suit, said she finds a message of hope in the lives of the previous occupants of the White house. “One thing that we take from the life stories of all the people that lived here before us -- certainly I look at the lives of the women who lived here before us -- is encouragement, really, about our country, and the way we've been able to face the challenges that we've been faced with before, and the assurance from the way that we faced those that we'll be able to face any challenges that come again.”

Tonight President and Mrs. Bush will make the five-minute drive from the White House to the Ellipse to light the National Christmas Tree, a living Colorado blue spruce planted near their back yard.

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