Here are some excerpts —about two minutes— from Christmas At The White House, a CBS News Christmas Eve Special from 1971.

RN and the Nixon family are seen around the tree in the Family Quarters.  The reporters are Charles Kuralt and Marya McLaughlin (one of the female pioneers of TV news, who died last spring).

The rest of the clip includes a particularly blathery commentary by Eric Sevareid (who is determined to shoehorn a long quote that includes some of E. M. Forster’s famous essay “What I Believe” into his Christmas homily) and some behind the scenes footage at CBS News headquarters in New York.  This was state of the art communications in the third year of RN’s first term; a far away (and long gone) time when even the cameramen wore suits and ties.

The clip covers the highlights mentioned in TIME’s review of the program:

Americans rarely get a close-up look inside the Executive Mansion. Harry Truman showed television viewers around the newly renovated White House in 1952; since then, Jacqueline Kennedy, Lady Bird Johnson and Tricia Nixon have taken the nation on similarly memorable televised tours. This Christmas season, CBS cameramen and reporters were allowed into the secluded second-floor family living quarters to record White House preparations for the holidays. Viewers will see the Nixons’ private tree; they will watch as Son-in-Law Eddie Cox is welcomed for his first Christmas at the White House, and get an unusual peek into the First Family’s album of Christmases past. Most remarkable, however, is the spectacle of a nattily dressed Richard Nixon romping on the sitting-room floor with his dogs, King Timahoe, an Irish setter, Vicky, a gray miniature poodle and Pasha, a Yorkshire terrier. The President, doubtless mindful of the outcry when his predecessor tugged on canine ears, scrupulously confined his gestures of affection toward King Timahoe to playful pats.

The President and Mrs. Nixon’s official Christmas card in 1971 carried out the White House theme. Prepared for the White House by Hallmark, It was a reproduction of a 1930 N. C. Wyeth painting of George Washington and architect James Hoban watching the building of the first Executive Mansion in 1798.  (Coincidentally carrying out RN’s interest in trains, the painting had been commissioned by the Pennsylvania Railroad for use in a poster.)  The cover of the card featured the painting inside a red border.


You will find an interesting and comprehensive history of RN’s White House Christmas cards (both the official cards and the series of large scale Presidential portraits that he gave each year to the staff)  here.