Tuesday, July 5

Normality is installed again in the Christmas decorations of the White House

Correspondent in Washington



“Pretty normal.” That was the verdict of several of the first guests to visit the first lady’s Christmas decorations at the White House, an annual event in Washington when December falls. Red ribbons. Garlands Socks in the fireplace. Trees with golden tinsel. Gift packages. A born. It’s true, quite normal.

Expectations this year were high. I was going to do Jill Biden, new to the job, after controversial years of Melania Trump and your love for functional, modern and deconstructed decoration? Was the old Christmas spirit returning to the presidential mansion, after Mrs. Trump was surreptitiously recorded saying, literally, “Fuck the Christmas decorations”?

The truth is that for those of us who have already had to visit several Christmas decorations since the second Bush years and we consider ourselves, to our regret, experts on the matter, Jill Biden has not had to put too much effort into its premiere.

It was enough to not opt ​​for those red cones, white painted canes and nadir lights that critics with the Trumps compared to a scene from the movie “The Shining.”

The most bizarre thing that Mrs. Biden has allowed herself is to make two garlands with wide-brush brushes, arranged in a circle, a kind of tribute that at first one did not know if it was to the painters’ guild or to American creativity.

Only by consulting the guide given to the visit the White House, one of them finds out that it is a tribute to the «Gift of the Visual Arts». Each room, in fact, is dedicated to a “gift” because the central theme of these decorations, which must always be one, is “Gifts from the heart.”

There is the gift of gratitude, nature, peace, unity and family, among many others. Three gigantic greeting cards, placed before the solemn portrait of George Washington in the East Room, proclaim: “Thank you,” “Peace on earth,” “Many gifts from the heart to you and your family this Christmas.” They are all signed by “The Biden Family.”

No attack of austerity

It is not that behind this apparent normality in official decorations hides any attack of austerity. In total, the White House has used 1,800 meters of ribbon, more than 300 candles, about 10,000 ornaments and 78,750 Christmas lights to decorate itself this holiday season, according to the first lady’s office. They are the usual figures, or similar.

Each year a fir tree is brought to the White House to serve as the official Christmas tree. This time it is an Appalachian “abies fraseri” brought from Jefferson, North Carolina. It measures five and a half meters, and to place it in the Blue Room the chandelier has been removed, since they did not fit both. Dozens of flying white doves surround him, the «Gift of Peace».

Biden has also modified a tradition. There is usually, in addition to the Neapolitan nativity scene, a White House – actually a “little white house” – made of gingerbread. This year, instead of a little house, it is a whole town, with its school, its grocery store, its hospital, its fire station and even its police station. It is a tribute to the firefighters, and also an attempt to further infantilize these decorations after Mrs. Trump’s attempts to imitate more of a fashion store or a modern art gallery.

A photo of the Trumps

One surprise the Christmas critic got on this 2020 visit was to run into the Trumps. Not in person, of course, but in a photo that the Bidens included as a decoration on another fir tree, that of the State Dining Room, dedicated to the presidential families. In view were, hanging from the branches, small golden frames with family photos of the Kennedys, Bushes one and two, the Clintons, the Reagans and others.

Going around the tree, as if hiding, but there after all, Donald and Melania Trump were, holding hands, in 2018, receiving the Christmas tree of that year at the doors of the White House. It was a detail of the current first lady, after Trump’s accusations that last year’s elections were fraudulent and his intention to stay four more years in this same White House, something that would have given us a less normal Christmas to the suffering inhabitants of Washington .

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