Like many families on Friday, President and Nancy Reagan sat down to a traditional turkey dinner, but others celebrated in unusual ways, including an Illinois man who shoveled nearly 800 pounds of snow into his pickup and drove it to Florida to give his niece and nephews their first white Christmas.
The White House press office said the Reagans' menu for 21 guests was roast turkey with corn bread stuffing, roasted chestnuts, cranberry-orange relish, spiced acorn squash, pearl onions and peas and a hazelnut mousse and meringue Christmas log.
Invited to share the meal were Dr. Richard Davis, Nancy Reagan's brother, and his family; Nancy Reynolds and her son Mike, longtime Reagan family friends; Charles Z. Wick, director of the U.S. Information Agency, and his family; former Republican Sen. Paul Laxalt of Nevada and his wife, Carol; and columnist George Will.
Statue of the Madonna
As their Christmas gift to each other, the Reagans purchased from the government a 24-inch ivory statue of the Madonna that had been presented to them by Pope John Paul II during their 1982 visit to the Vatican.
By law, such gifts are government property but can be purchased by the First Family at an appraised price--in this case $800.
On a day when the Reagans kept tradition, Tom Callahan of suburban Chicago had a snowball fight with relatives in sunny 70-degree weather in Ormond Beach, Fla.
After that, they built a snowman by the backyard pool, with palm fronds for arms.
Charlie, 7, and his cousins, Christopher, 3 1/2, and Kelly, 11 months, had never seen snow before their uncle unveiled the icy mound that survived a 23-hour trip.
"The kids didn't know what it was at first; they had these puzzled looks on their faces," Callahan said.
He Shovels for Hours
Callahan and a friend had spent several hours shoveling the snow into the truck.
When skeptics scoffed at his plans to get snow all the way to Florida, Callahan pointed out: "How long it takes to defrost a closed refrigerator?"
"Insulation is the key," Callahan said, explaining that he protected his precious cargo with a plastic-foam-like board used in photography, along with packing blankets, a green plastic tarp, and, finally, a red ribbon. He said he arrived with about 75% of the snow.
Around the nation, parents struggled to assemble toys, and holiday warmth was shared with the homeless as Americans celebrated in ways old and new.
In Manhattan, admirers of Irving Berlin serenaded the 99-year-old composer of "White Christmas" at his home on Christmas Eve.
Variations on a Meal
In northwest Washington, the Korean-American Chamber of Commerce offered a variation on the free Christmas dinners served across the nation by the Salvation Army and other groups when it gave homeless people a traditional Oriental meal of marinated beef, fried rice, Oriental soup and vegetables.
Volunteer firefighters in Killingly, Conn., rounded up presents for a family of five who were burned out of their home on Christmas Eve.
At the front gates of the National Zoo in Washington, about 50 animal rights advocates sang Christmas carols to the primates.
Crossing River to Cheers
At Washington's Crossing, Pa., nearly 7,500 people lined the Delaware River banks to cheer the annual re-enactment of the Christmas night crossing 211 years ago by Gen. George Washington, who was on his way to attack celebrating British mercenaries at nearby Trenton, N.J.
And in Fall City, Wash., Dmitri Vinogredov, a Soviet zoologist granted asylum in August, said living in the United States was enough of a Christmas present.
"Freedom is the biggest treasure. After I got it, I have no big dreams," he said.