George Bush always refused to leave D.C. until the day after Christmas; here’s why
Joseph Curl covered the White House for the Washington Times during the George W. Bush administration, and says he still thinks about the former president every Christmas season because Bush always gave him a “spectacular gift.”
Before revealing what that gift was, Curl said it is important to understand just how many people are involved in every moment of a President’s day. He explained that “hundreds and hundreds of people,” from Secret Service agents and local police officers to journalists and White House staffers, are on the move every time the President is — no matter what day of the week or time of year, including holidays.
“If he went to Charlotte, North Carolina, to give a 30-minute speech on an airport tarmac, we went,” Curl said in the Washington Times. “Up at 4 a.m., an hourlong commute to Andrews Air Force Base, in place on the ground hours before POTUS landed, and there for hours and hours after he left — sometimes right through the evening news so network reporters could file live from the site.”
Curl said they went with the President to Texas every summer — “often for a month” — and in the winter, too. But even though it is the President’s prerogative to go and come whenever he pleases, Curl said President Bush gave the “hundreds and hundreds of people” accompanying him everywhere a very special gift each Christmas he was in office.
“In December, we never left Washington, D.C., until the day after Christmas. Never,” he recalled. “Mr. Bush and his wife, Laura, would always depart the White House a few days before the holiday and hunker down at Camp David, the presidential retreat in Maryland. After a few years, I asked a low-level White House staffer why.
“I still remember what she said: ‘So all of us can be with our families on Christmas.’”
“For me, that one-day delay was huge,” Curl continued. “My kids were 6 and 8 years old when Mr. Bush took office. When he went home to Prairie Chapel that last time in 2009, my girl was driving, the boy was 6 foot 1. But in the meantime, I was home for eight Christmas mornings, playing Santa, stoking the fire, mixing up hot chocolates.”
As with pretty much everything else, Curl said the Christmas tradition ended when President Obama took office.
“This president would never delay his trip to his island getaway,” said Curl. “He’s off every year well before Christmas. Hundreds and hundreds head off with him, leaving family behind. No Christmas at home. Instead, the Hawaiian Village Waikiki Beach Resort. Nice, but not exactly home.”