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Caroline Kennedy's 'Family Christmas'

Dec 6, 2007 (Morning Edition)

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The National Christmas Tree comes alive Thursday in Washington, all lit up for the holidays in a ceremony presided over by the president and the first lady. The very first public lighting of a public Christmas tree in America was presided over by the mayor of Boston — John Fitzgerald.

He was the grandfather of another president, John F. Kennedy, and the great-grandfather of Caroline Kennedy. She's compiled a new Christmas anthology, A Family Christmas. It's a collection of poetry, prose, lyrics and scripture about the season.

Kennedy opens the book with her own letter to Santa in 1962, when she was 5 years old. The president's daughter requests a pair of silver skates, dolls, "a real pet reindeer and a clock to tell time." She also asks for "interesting planes or (a) bumpy thing he can ride in or some noisy thing or something he can push or pull" for her little brother John.

A Kennedy family tradition was to give oranges and walnuts for Christmas. It's one that children longing for toys didn't quite appreciate, Caroline Kennedy tells Renee Montagne. But it's a tradition she has continued with her own kids.

"I think the continuity ... of the traditions is really what makes Christmas so special," Kennedy says. "And for me, seeing my children do the same kinds of thing that I did when I was young and even that my mother did for her mother — all that is just so powerful when you have kids and when you see that continuing forward."

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