It's an American tradition that every year, no matter how dismal, the White House invites a bunch of photographers to capture some feel-good seasonal snapshots of the president's pad decorated for the holidays. Generally, it falls to the First Lady to doll herself up, park herself in front of the tree, and smile for the cameras. Turns out this makes for a pretty amazing time capsule.

Earlier today, CNN politics reporter Chris Moody tweeted this pretty excellent photo of Hillary Clinton from the days when Bill was president:

Inspired, we decided to check out other first ladies through the decades, making their obligatory appearance in front of a Christmas tree. Watch as the twentieth century parades past!

We begin with Eleanor Roosevelt in 1939, perched on a chair on the outskirts of this family photo. This is the closest I could get to a photo of Eleanor alone in front of the tree because let's face it, standing around in front of a Christmas tree wasn't really her kind of thing:

Bess Truman escaped this little ritual. How did Ike and Mamie Eisenhower even manage to get that much tinsel onto a single tree? Did they bring in some of those nice boys from NASA?

I think you could probably run to your nearest Kate Spade and purchase something virtually identical to this dress of Jackie Kennedy's. No matchy-matchy shit here:

Here's Lady Bird Johnson in 1965, looking like a million goddamn bucks. I bet she played a vicious game of bridge:

In this photo, Pat Nixon and her very 70s print dress have been upstaged by a dog named "King Timahoe." I guess the infamous Checkers was dead:

Is Betty Ford wearing an apron, or a dress designed to look like an apron? Either way: A+ domestic goddessing.

The Carters are actually pictured here in front of Walter Mondale's tree, at the Vice President's residence, but I've included it because oh my God those dresses:

Nancy Reagan, though. Nancy Reagan really embraced this ritual. Here she is, with Mister T, in two of the greatest photographs ever taken:

But this candid shot of Barbara Bush removing Millie the cocker spaniel from the tree's premises is pretty wondrous, as well:

I like to imagine Laura Bush is saying, "What do you want me to say, it's a fucking Christmas tree."

Michelle Obama gets it: If you've gotta do the Christmas tree thing, might as well have high-quality snacks.

All images via AP.