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The first lady invited military families over to the White House to look at this year’s Christmas decorations, with a theme of “Joy to All.”

It now has 54 Christmas trees, more than 80 seasonal volunteers representing all 50 states, and a gingerbread house that weighs nearly 300 pounds.

It’s the White House during the holiday season.

First lady Michelle Obama unveiled the 2012 decorations in a special ceremony for selected military families and their children.

This year’s theme is “Joy to All,” Mrs. Obama said.

More than 90,000 visitors are expected to pass through the White House between now and the end of the year.

The biggest Christmas tree in the house — an 18-foot-6-inch Fraser fir in the Blue Room on the ground floor — features handmade decorations by children whose parents are stationed on military bases around the world.

Another tree features special Gold Star ornaments bearing the names of those who died in battle, making the ultimate sacrifice for their country.

Visitors can also fill out Operation Honor cards, which, Mrs. Obama said, “are used to pledge an individual service to their community in honor of our military families, servicemembers and veterans.”

Praising her guests for their contributions, Mrs. Obama said, “our military families truly represent the very best that this country has to offer. … This is one big, huge thank you.”

Other trees feature ornamental tributes to past first ladies and their tributes to Christmas, going back to Jacqueline Kennedy’s Nutcracker-themed decorations in the early 1960s.

A series of decorations throughout the house pay tribute to the family dog, Bo.

The first lady also highlighted the pride of the White House pastry kitchen, the gingerbread house that includes more than 175 pounds of gingerbread (and modified gingerbread) and more than 50 pounds of chocolate.

It is an exact replica of the White House — complete with chandeliers that light up.

“It glows,” Mrs. Obama noted, “like Rudolph’s nose.”

In front of the house: A very big gingerbread statue of Bo.

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article courtesy of USAToday.com

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