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The holiday season is in full swing at the White House.

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First Lady Dr. Jill Biden officially received the White House Christmas Tree 2021 on Monday afternoon, before she and the president traveled to Fort Bragg, North Carolina. There, the couple celebrated early Thanksgiving with service members and military families.

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The two events kicked off the White House holiday season, which is expected to be much more festive this year, as public health officials beg Americans to stay at home, rather than come together in person for the COVID-19 pandemic. Encourage those vaccinated against -19 because they’ve been for the past holidays.

The holiday tree was presented by a father-son team of Rusty and Beau Estes of Peak Farms in Jefferson, North Carolina—a three-time winner of the National Christmas Tree Association’s annual competition. The winner has to present his official tree at the White House.

Son Hunter Biden, his wife, Melissa, and their child, Beau, were among a large group of White House aides, guests, and others who watched the brief ceremony marking the start of the administration’s first Christmas at the White House. For facing strong winds.

The first lady plucked a twig from the tree and gave her grandson – and a big smooch -.

“Look how beautiful it is,” she said of the 18 1/2-foot (5.6 m) Fraser fir that was transported by wagon to her Pennsylvania Avenue door by Clysdale horses named Ben and Winston.

WASHINGTON, DC – NOVEMBER 22: US First Lady Jill Biden waves after receiving the official White House Christmas tree at the North Portico of the White House on November 22, 2021 in Washington, DC. The eighteen-foot Fraser fir was grown in the north

In the coming days the tree will be decorated and displayed in the Blue Room, a tradition dating back to the time of President Dwight D. Eisenhower, when a chandelier is removed so that it can be fastened to the ceiling for safety. White House grounds superintendent Dale Haney went to the field in October to pick up a tree. Peak Farms also supplied the official White House tree in 2008 and 2012.

White House Christmas decorations will be revealed on Monday the day after Thanksgiving, the First Lady said.

related: Christmas tree shortage: Supply chain backlog could mean slim pickings this holiday season

His office said Jill Biden was inducted by a DC Army National Guard family to honor the role of the National Guard in responding to the COVID-19 pandemic. She is using her new role to help support and rally support for military families across the country through an initiative called Joining Forces.

The visit to Fort Bragg on Monday was also part of an initiative that was started in 2011 by Dr. Biden and then First Lady Michelle Obama. The initiative calls on all Americans to support service members, veterans and their families through welfare and education. , and employment opportunities.

At Fort Bragg, meals were held for about 250 soldiers and families in a large hangar filled with pumpkin and pine cone centerpieces. Jill Biden spoke first, stepping out from behind a table to walk into the room, talking to families about her late son, Beau, who served in the Delaware National Guard, and how she understood the holidays. How hard it was to stay away during He talked about how proud he was of the soldiers, who praised him, before introducing him to the president.

“You do a lot, your families do a lot,” President Biden said. “You are the best army the world has ever had… and I am so proud to join you.”

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US President Joe Biden and First Lady Jill Biden pray before dining with soldiers at Fort Bragg to mark the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday on November 22, 2021 in Fort Bragg, North Carolina. (Photo by Brendan Smailowski / AFP) (Photo by Brendan)

After a quick prayer to the clergy, Bidens walked behind the serving table, wearing gloves and aprons, and began serving food to the waiting soldiers. Jill Biden scoops up the president of mashed potatoes, Stuffing. Soldiers were given chocolate chip cookies with the President’s seal, and the long table was filled with food, including chocolate cake.

On Tuesday, the Bidens plan to participate in an announced local service project before resuming their family tradition of celebrating Thanksgiving on the Massachusetts island of Nantucket. Biden finalized tradition over COVID-19 concerns and hunched over Thanksgiving dinner in Delaware with his wife, his daughter and his son-in-law.

“Last Thanksgiving, for the first time ever, it was just four of us,” Biden said earlier this month as he commented on the country’s progress against the coronavirus.

related: Restaurants open on Thanksgiving 2021: Many offer takeout, dine-in menus

Public White House holiday tours are a popular staple every holiday season. Volunteers from across the country work diligently in late November to prepare the White House.

This year the Tours are still temporarily suspended due to COVID-19.

The White House will officially welcome the holiday season with a traditional national christmas tree lights on 5 December

This story was reported from Detroit. The Associated Press contributed.