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How's Bayou? From their big White House to ours

The Tannenbaum Gigantus at Madewood. (Photo by Angie Johnson)

Millie was thrilled to receive all those e-mails from Beyonce.

They held out the promise of those lottery tickets we all buy: YOU could be the winner.

Dinner with Beyonce or other Progressive supporters of the president's re-election.

Thanks for your donation, Millie!

And the "personal" e-mails from Michelle Obama, taking time out, no doubt, from cultivating the White House vegetable garden, grooming Bo, exercising those upper arms. Those were the best.

Last week, we wanted to BE Michelle Obama, not just have dinner with her and Barack.

It was the press photo of the First Lady and her daughters greeting the Clydesdales who pulled an antique wooden cart, top-hatted driver steadying the 19-foot-tall White House Christmas tree, that filled me with Michelle-envy.

As well-toned as she is, as young and athletic as her daughters are, it would be White House lackeys who would wrestle that massive tree into the residence and set it up for decoration.

At Madewood, it was all of us who faced the task of threading our 18-foot-tall tree -- just 12 inches shorter than its Washington counterpart -- through the large but not-quite-wide-enough door into the ballroom. The rich man struggling to enter Heaven through the eye of a needle had nothing on us.

It was the largest tree we'd ever had; and, even trussed-up tighter than our Thanksgiving turkey, it just wouldn't squeeze through the door. Three men, given directions by Angie, struggled, and finally wrestled it into submission.

Home and hearth are part of Christmas at Madewood. (Photo by Angie Johnson)

As you can see, once the tree was up and decorated, the lowest branches stretched more than halfway across the ballroom, which is 24 feet wide.

Once the tree was inside, we had to get it upright, no mean task. Then the fun part began, decking the woodland intruder with all sorts of ornaments, handmade and store-bought.

As always, first up were the hand-crocheted ornaments that Napoleonville native Jo Hicks had made specially for the ballroom tree more than 30 years ago. Then the glistening gold globes that were 75 percent off on December 26, 2009, at Restoration Hardware, back in the good old days when luxury stores were always overstocked.

Family ornaments were next, then lights, requiring Warren, whose family has lived on Madewood for six generations, to struggle to extricate himself from the lowest branches after crawling along the floor like a Seal-Team-6er to plug in the cord, waaaay in back.

It was all in preparation for Saturday's annual Christmas Heritage Banquet at Madewood, when the house is at its finest, welcoming guests in the old kitchen, with fire blazing in the hearth, as the choir from St. Philomena Catholic Church in Labadieville sings from the rear gallery. (The event is open to the public, www.madewood.com.)

But I couldn't get that other big white house out of my mind, and yesterday I stumbled across an online video at www.whitehouse.gov. It shows the large red ribbon being installed at the entrance portico in commemoration of AIDS Awareness. This time, there were airlifts, moving vans, a slew of workmen and the largest piece of ribbon I'd ever seen.

Hardly comparable to the meager-in-comparison red bows we tied at Madewood around garlands and wreaths. All by our little selves.

And not a creature was stirring, not even a Clydesdale.

How's Bayou? the secrets of remaining sane while running an upscale B&B on Bayou Lafourche, is written weekly for NolaVie by Keith Marshall, a former Rhodes Scholar and graduate of Yale and Oxford universities who now runs Madewood Plantation House in Napoleonville.

How’s Bayou? the secrets of remaining sane while running an upscale B&B on Bayou Lafourche, is written weekly for NolaVie by Keith Marshall, a former Rhodes Scholar and graduate of Yale and Oxford universities who now runs Madewood Plantation House in Napoleonville.