After her predecessor’s terrifying vision, the first lady’s minimal display strikes a polite and safe tone
You’ve heard the faint murmur of All I Want for Christmas Is You, you’ve seen people swapping their pumpkin spice lattes for Starbucks Eggnogs and Jill Biden has unveiled the White House’s Christmas decor. Yes, Christmas is officially here.
She’s following seasonal protocol: since 1889 the White House has been marking the beginning of the season with an interiors makeover. JFK and Jackie’s version gave Lana Del Rey and other fans of classic Americana inspiration for life, Lady Bird Johnson went “peace and love” in 1967 putting a wreath of flowers on hers, the Reagans gave it full 80s glam by allowing Mr T to co-star in the photo-op as Santa (JR from Dallas did the honours the following year) and Hillary Clinton memorably threw everything at her tree in classic overachiever style.
But never has the phrase “DECK THE HALLS!” sounded so threatening as when Melania Trump become chief of staff of interior Christmas decorating. Blood trees (Twitter never forgets), ivory white sticks that resembled witches fingers and enough Christmas lights that suggested a special cut-price deal with the power grid. The overall mise en scène Trump was emoting seemed to be The Handmaid’s Tale meets the launch of my premium brand of Glaceau smartwater in Elsa from Frozen’s ice castle.
Jill Biden has gone minimal by comparison. The theme is “Gifts from the Heart”. And if that sounds like the name of a Celine Dion Sings the Seasonal Classics-type affair, well, you’d be right. Dr Biden was inspired by the people she’d met while her husband was campaigning, according to Associated Press. There’s a gingerbread White House diorama, candy cane-like stockings sized apparently to fit a baby elephant’s foot and The Tree. Well, The Tree is bursting with life, with white tinsel wrapped around to look like white doves of peace. It’s polite. It’s safe. And after four years of hell, it’s just a relief.
Still, there’s certainly a wave of nausea when one looks at the gold-plated leaves adoring the tree in the light of the unemployment numbers and The Great Resignation.
The big takeaway question we have, though, is: with all the supply chain issues, what’s exactly in those big red boxes?
With Omicron likely to become the Grinch that stole Christmas (again), maybe these pictures should be seen as normal-time placeholders. With your normally scheduled Christmas set to recommence some time in 2025. Now, let’s all suspend our collective beliefs and stare at those huge stockings again.
For a full look at Jill Biden’s Christmas decorations, click here.