What On Earth Is Going On With the White House Holiday Decorations?

The White House is fully embracing the post-Thanksgiving holiday season, though some of this year’s decorations have come under scrutiny for odd taste. The First Lady selected the decorations, which manage to be simultaneously predictable and over-the-top, including a full gingerbread replica of the White House and plenty of fake snow. A video shows Melania being “hands-on”—fluffing a large red bow, pointing at a cookie tray and drawing what looks like a floor arrangement.

The White House has been given a makeover in this year’s theme: “Time-Honored Traditions.” The White House library is getting special attention, but not for the edition of A Christmas Carol, owned by FDR, that is being displayed. As the Washington Post pointed out, the prominent feature in the library this year are books arranged in the shape of a Christmas tree, with green spines and covers to create the continuous tree imagery.

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Emily C. Bell / YouTube

The Post highlighted the irony of a Trump White House centering books in the display, when the president famously doesn't read books. The assortment has no thematic bounds, nor are they classics, children’s tales or even holiday-themed. Included in the tree are the titles “World of Golf” and “Ronin: A Marine Scout-Sniper Platoon in Iraq.” The Post details some of the books selected for the tree and the discontinuity in theme.

"The titles that make up President Trump’s holiday book tree are a perplexing assortment. 'Holding Up the Earth' (2000) is a teen novel about five generations of women whose tales come together in a 'story quilt.' 'Sangoma' is a memoir of a former Eagle Scout from Illinois who moves to Swaziland to become a spiritual healer. 'Developing Superior Work Teams' seems like a book the president might want to at least skim. 'American Mourning,' an academic study of how public mourning shapes politics 'and might be employed to shape our future outcomes,' seems an unusual choice, given the public mood."

"Stephanie Grisham, Melania’s communications director, explained to the Washington Post that the books were selected for their color, not content, to 'highlight FDR’s personal copy of A Christmas Carol, which is bound in red leather.' She said, 'The concept for the color of the room was red and green, hence the green books and red ribbons.'"

For comparison, last year’s library decorations were centered around the theme “Let girls learn,” Michelle Obama’s education program. The first holiday season since Trump took office is projecting quite a different tone than Obama's White House. These books are all show, no substance.

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HGTV/ www.hgtv.com

A walk-through video of the decorations includes ballerinas and children making gumdrop trees, but earlier photos show this year’s decorations in a more ominous light, which led some Twitter users to mock the creepy display. 

Thematically brisk decoration selections by the Trump family also extended to Thanksgiving, when Ivanka Trump promoted a cornucopia on Twitter that had seen more bountiful days.

It’s also noted that the White House has used direct Christmas messaging in the annual holiday card with the line “Merry Christmas,” rather than the broader “Happy Holidays” messaging used in previous years.

Melania’s color-coordinated book tree spurred a heated design debate about color-coordinating libraries. While most winter visitors to the White House will be focused on the actual trees, of which there are 53, maybe Trump and his advisers will spend extra time in the library this year.  

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