THE PRESIDENCY: Home for Christmas

The White House looked like Christmas. Mail piled up; huge wreaths splashed greenery from the windows; the great rooms sparkled with holly, poinsettia and mistletoe. On the south lawn, the towering national Christmas tree winked merrily to passersby. But for all its holly, the White House was not filled with the Christmas spirit.

The Trumans wanted to spend Christmas at home—and home was Independence, Mo. Bess and daughter Margaret had already left for Missouri; the President could hardly wait to fly there on the morning of the 25th.

In a frazzled way,...

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