Very rarely has Melania Trump seemed happy to carry out her limited duties as First Lady. When she’s not leading her laughably hypocritical Be Best campaign to discourage online bullying or giving plagiarised speeches at the Republican National Convention, she’s often noticeably absent from the public eye, giving fuel to the ongoing rumour that she has a body-double stand in for her during public appearances. But, there is one remaining obligation that Trump has managed to do before leaving Washington forever: Present the White House holiday decor for the 2020 holiday season.
While this year’s festive decorations were less The Handmaid’s Tale-esque than her 2018 offering, and certainly not as post-apocalyptic as her 2017 ornamentation, it did have a theme of sorts, one that is bound to be her legacy as First Lady: hypocrisy. In the White House's Red Room, for example, is a Christmas-themed tribute to essential workers, complete with a tree adorned with ornaments shaped like trash trucks, scientists, caregivers, lab coats, and nurse hats. Interesting choice considering that her husband knowingly downplayed the severity of a global pandemic that, to date, has infected over 13 million Americans, killed more than 267,000, and left millions more unemployed and facing possible eviction. And, of course, the First Lady doesn't really seem to care much about the immigrant essential workers who were purposefully omitted from the CARES Act, excluding them from obtaining COVID-19 relief money. In truth, this is a fitting pseudo-tribute from the woman who donned a “I really don’t care, do you?” jacket when visiting immigrant men, women, and children in cages at the US border.
Also amid the 106 wreaths, 62 trees, and more than 1,200 feet of garland in Mrs Trump’s “toned down” holiday decor is a tribute to the woman’s suffrage movement, which 100 years ago gave women the right to vote — as long as they were, you know, white. Amid the decorative yellow roses — a tribute to women suffragettes — there are ornaments of prominent women throughout history; we even spy one of Black activist Ida B. Wells. While it's great that not only white suffragettes are being honoured at the White House, it's yet another example of Trump's hypocrisy by celebrating voting rights at the same time that her husband is trying to say that legitimate votes should be discounted and that the whole system is rigged.
But perhaps it’s the black urns filled with foliage and greenery from each state and US territory — supposedly in keeping with this year’s “America the Beautiful” theme — that is most revealing of how Trump views her role as First Lady on the whole, and with regards to Christmas in particular. It’s fitting that a woman who was recorded saying “Who gives a fuck about Christmas stuff and decorations, but I need to do it, right?” would choose an urn — a piece of decor most often associated with funerals and death — as part of this year's festivities. But perhaps the urns makes sense considering that approximately 1,000 Americans are dying from COVID-19 every single day. As the President and First Lady prepare to host a number of in-door holiday celebrations as their days at the White House come to a close, hospitals are reaching capacity and health care workers are caring for a record-number of coronavirus patients, making it more clear than ever that they really don't care.
So, while the official theme of this year's White House Christmas decorations might very well be "America the Beautiful," the actual theme seems much closer to: "America the Hypocritical" — a very fitting end to Melania Trump's White House decorating career. Beauty fades, but the nightmare that was this administration will last forever.