To no one’s great surprise, the media grinches are out in force this year again. First Lady Melania Trump gave the nation a look at the White House all decorated up for Christmas. The anti-Trump (anti-Melania) voices in the media responded as they did last year. And the year before that, too.
The pattern is established. The First Lady gives sneak peeks on social media of the hundreds of volunteers who come from across the country – at their own expense – putting the decorations up. Then ugliness begins in social media. Memes and tweets and snarky Facebook posts spring up. This has happened for each year the Trumps have resided in the White House.
Let’s take a trip down Memory Lane, shall we? In 2017, the first Christmas for the Trump administration, Melania Trump chose a Winter Wonderland theme and there was a whole lot of white. White trees, white spotlights, and what some described as Harry Potter-style evil shadows cast by the lights.
why do the White House Christmas decorations look like Voldemort is about to come back pic.twitter.com/nF0GxCaxUq
— Kate Gray (@hownottodraw) November 27, 2017
This was the First Lady’s first year in charge and I was impressed. It was over-the-top, to be sure, but it’s acceptable (often encouraged, really) given the joyous holiday season. I expected nothing less from a woman who lives in a New York City penthouse that is decorated in marble and gold-gilded accessories. That is not a criticism, by the way. The Trump penthouse just doesn’t look like my house, or probably yours, either. The same goes for their Florida residence, Mar-a-Lago. The rich are different.
In 2018, the East Colonnade, the hallway of the East Wing, was decorated with cranberry trees and lots more white lights. It was, frankly, gorgeous. Her Be Best initiative was recognized with ornaments. The Netflix show, The Handmaid’s Tale, an American dystopian drama web television, was at peak popularity that year and The Resistance women began appearing in the long red hooded capes and white bonnet-style hats the women wear in that show. The cranberry trees inspired the Trump-deranged to mock the decorations with the costume on social media.
Here Melania- someone fixed the red trees for you! pic.twitter.com/bToSYTL4V6
— Tiny Dancer (@ReelDancing) November 26, 2018
This year, the 2019 White House Christmas decorations have a patriotic theme – the Spirit of America. Red, white, and blue ribbons are used in the decorations and models of American landmarks are included in the traditional White House gingerbread house display. The First Lady wants to honor “the courageous individuals who have shaped our country and kept the American spirit alive.” White trees are back and decorated with touches of gold.
The Gold Star Family tree in the White House’s East Wing is decorated with golden stars, red bows and patriotic ribbons in honor of those who lost family members while serving.
The Red Room is decorated with a “game room” theme, including card and board games as part of the decorations. The video shows a close-up of one of the trees with an ornament that says “Be Best” in Scrabble tiles, a reference to the first lady’s child wellness initiative.
The Grand Foyer is lit up in gold as faux snow dusts the floor and trees, and the East Colonnade features a white color scheme where three-dimensional stars hang from the ceiling and display a timeline of “American design, innovation and architecture.”
The Daily Beast described the White House decorations as “joyless” and will “haunt your nightmares”.
The first lady ditched the creepy ballet dancers and blood red trees that decorated the White House in Christmases past, opting instead for bright lights, bows, and bobbles that in any other home might look cheerful—if incredibly ostentatious.
“The Spirit of America,” as Melania so subtly calls her state-sponsored jingoism, is the most sterile of her three attempts at holiday decorating. It appears preemptively designed to be impossible to poke fun at, unlike last year’s Shining-esque color scheme or the stark-bare, dreary tree branches erected in 2017.
Yet, the “impossible to poke fun at” scene is, indeed, mocked in the Daily Beast article.
Stock music—the faux-soothing, too-repetitive kind that causes department store Santas to drink throughout their shifts—plays as Melania blitzes through the Grand Foyer, perhaps wanting it all to be over just as much as we do.
Clad in all white, with her coat thrown over her shoulders as usual, Melania crosses her arms and does totally normal, real person things. She stares at a bouquet of flowers, sprinkles what looks like salt (is it decorative… white stuff?) over a tree branch to mimic snow, and gives the camera a money shot of a diamond ring.
The ante has been upped, though, and now Melania’s coat featured in the 2019 video is being criticized. A piece in the Washington Post, written by Robin Givhan, attacked the choice of attire as “ridiculous”.
For her tour, Mrs. Trump wears all white: a dress with a simple jewel neckline, white stiletto-heeled pumps and a white coat. The coat is draped over her shoulders as she strolls through the White House.
The coat looks ridiculous.
But more than a silly fashion folly, the coat is a distraction. It’s a discomforting affectation taken to a ludicrous extreme. In a video that is intended to celebrate the warmth and welcoming spirit of the holiday season, that simple flourish exudes cold, dismissive aloofness.
In past years, Melania has sported a coat or jacket in the videos. This year was no different, except the color of the coat. In 2017, she wore a gray pullover sweater in some of the video and a plaid coat in other parts of it. In 2018 she wore a dark coat and this year the coat is white. If all you can do is criticize the coat (Givhan admitted the decorations were beautiful) then maybe just sit this one out.
Melanie Trump deserves credit for how she carries out the job as First Lady. The White House looks beautiful and will be enjoyed by thousands of people. Most of all, the critics, while aiming squarely at Melania, actually end up dissing the volunteers who work so hard to get the job done.