Why Do First Ladies Have to Decorate the White House, Honestly

"Who gives a fuck about the Christmas stuff?" was actually a valid question for Melania Trump to ask

Why Do First Ladies Have to Decorate the White House, Honestly
Photo:Patrick Semansky (AP)

The sun is now setting at 4 p.m. and, in accordance with tradition, that means the First Lady has to do her damn job and decorate the White House for Christmas.

After four years of her predecessor’s blood trees and haunted icicles, Dr. Jill Biden has, according to the discourse, restored Christmas spirit to the White House and America writ large by stringing normal white lights over normal green trees.

Many are celebrating Jill’s — let’s be real, pretty basic — Christmas decor as a political victory of sorts over the Trumps. Even CNN seemed fairly eager to take a dig at former First Lady Melania Trump’s decorations, noting that “the lack of the copious amount of decoration of the last several years is felt and seen,” while the Daily Beast observes that “Jill Biden has opted for a much less Scrooge-ian route” than her predecessor. On Twitter, some are rejoicing that this year’s decorations notably exclude the “murder trees” of Trump Christmases past, and that this First Lady at the very least seems vaguely happy to be tasked with spreading holiday cheer.

You’ll note this isn’t just the first Christmas without White House decorations from Melania — it’s also the first Christmas since a particularly infamous leaked phone call. In the call, we hear Melania say, “I’m working my ass off on the Christmas stuff, that you know, who gives a fuck about the Christmas stuff and decorations? But I need to do it, right?”

She continued:

“OK, and then I do it and I say that I’m working on Christmas and planning for the Christmas and they said, ‘Oh, what about the children that they were separated?’ Give me a fucking break. Where they were saying anything when Obama did that? I can not go, I was trying get the kid reunited with the mom. I didn’t have a chance — needs to go through the process and through the law.”

As a proud birther, xenophobe, and supporter of her husband’s politics, Melania was and is awful in pretty much every conceivable way. But maybe she was onto something with regard to her comments on Christmas decorations, and all the hoopla about beautifying the White House for the holidays. Because really, who does care about any of that? And why does the First Lady always have to be in charge of it?

Melania’s unconcealed disdain for being in charge of Christmas duties is perhaps her only vaguely relatable quality. Isn’t it a bit odd to celebrate Jill’s decorations as some liberal political victory, when pinning homemaking duties on the president’s wife is arguably a pretty sexist tradition that we should maybe discontinue? She has a Ph.D. for fuck’s sake.

Photo:Ken Cedeno (AP)

The worship of Jill’s decorations (above) in contrast with Melania’s is all the more meaningless considering they’re actually pretty boring and don’t make a whole lot of sense for this year’s theme of “Gifts From the Heart” — and honestly, that’s fine! But it all goes to show that reactions to Jill’s holiday decor or Melania’s, before her, are always solely going to be based on whether or not someone likes them as individuals — First Ladies are really just reduced to pawns in the greater War on Christmas.

It brings me no joy to suggest that Melania might be right about something, but, hey, even the Worst Person You Know occasionally makes good points by accident. It’s all canceled out by how the Trumps have built their political careers around a culture war that decries liberals’ supposed hatred for Christmas and religion, and fetishizes the homemaking, domestic housewife. But utter hypocrisy aside, “Who gives a fuck about the Christmas stuff and decorations??” is actually a pretty valid question for the president’s spouse to ask.

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