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A White House Christmas: Prestige & Parody

by Countable | 11.30.17

The National Christmas Tree

D.C.’s oldest tradition takes place Thursday night. Nope, not arguing about taxes. It’s the 95th annual National Christmas Tree lighting. (But also arguing about taxes.)

President Calvin Coolidge began the tradition on Christmas Eve, 1923, when he lit a Christmas tree in front of 3,000 spectators on the Ellipse, the park located just south of the White House fence. Every president since then has carried on the tradition of causing massive traffic jams in Washington.

This year, President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump will continue that tradition, joined by Boys II Bow Ties, Craig Campbell, Jack Wagner, Mannheim Steamroller, The Beach Boys, Wynonna, and the U.S. Navy Band. Kathie Lee Gifford and Dean Cain will host the annual event, a joint effort between the National Park Service and National Park Foundation.

Christmas at the White House 2017

Each December, the White House goes full Thomas Kinkade with Christmas trees, wreaths, garland, lights, and gingerbread houses.

FLOTUS Melania Trump designed this year’s theme, "Time Honored Traditions." Created to “pay respect to 200 years of holiday traditions at the White House,” decorations include 53 Christmas trees with over 12,000 ornaments, 18,000 feet of Christmas lights, 71 wreaths, and a 350 pound Gingerbread house.

The East Room is also displaying the White House Crèche, an 18th century terra cotta and wood nativity scene. Visitors will also catch a glimpse of President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s 1866 edition of "A Christmas Carol" and Richard Nixon’s 1972 edition of “Profiles In Cowardice.”

"The President, Barron, and I are very excited for our first Christmas in the White House," the first lady wrote in a Nov. 27 statement. “As with many families across the country, holiday traditions are very important to us. I hope when visiting the People’s House this year, visitors will get a sense of being home for the holidays.”

A picture of the decorations at night, however, has had some twitter users not getting that sense.

Twitterers took that official White House pic and added some decorations of their own:

Hoping to take a live (daytime) tour? Better ask Santa for a time machine—White House Christmas Tour requests need to be submitted in September. However, you may be able to get in on a Congressional Member's Pass (distributed monthly by the White House Visitors Office).

It’s also not too late to buy the official 2017 White House Christmas Ornament. Proceeds go to the Pentagon’s ongoing efforts to combat the War On Christmas.

Ghosts of Christmas Past In The White House

  • The tradition of selecting a theme for the official White House Christmas tree was begun by First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy in 1961; she decorated the tree with ornamental toys, birds, angels, and characters from the "Nutcracker Suite."

  • In 1969, as the White House Historical Association explained, First Lady Patricia Nixon "arranged for disabled workers in Florida to make velvet and satin balls featuring each states official flower" for the American Flowers Tree.

  • The mid-90s saw The Gingrich Who Stole Christmas (it wasn’t completely Newt’s fault, but the pun is too good to pass up). In 1995, the Christmas Tree display was closed due to a federal budget showdown.

  • As Countable explained in our piece "Does President Trump Need A Pet?", George W. Bush’s two Scottish Terriers - Barney and Mrs. Beazley - were featured in a series of White House Christmas videos:
  • In 2015, the Obamas took advantage of then-novel YouTube technology, releasing a 360 holiday tour of the White House:

—Josh Herman

Related Reading

(Photo Credit: Banner National Tree photo / Official White House House Photo)

(Photo Credit: Calvin Coolidge with family / Library of Congress)

(Photo Credit: JFK and Jackie Kennedy / John F. Kennedy Presidential Library)

(Photo Credit: 1995 Budget Showdown - AP Photo / Mark Wilson)

Countable

Written by Countable

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(29)
  • I.Got.an.Idea...
    11/30/2017
    ···

    How about a big Christmas Gift to all Americans: A Constitutional Amendment that states that all citizens are equal, even if they happen to have non-white complexion, or they happen to have a faith in something other than religion, or Christianity, or if the Citizen is attracted to the same sex, or if the Citizen happens to be poor. Also, as a stocking stuffer, The White House can remove Oppression from all Governmental Policies; this would be preformed by adding an Amendment that does not allow any form of Conservatism in Governance, Politics, Judiciary, Law Enforcement, or business practices that effect the public or consumers.

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  • Azrael
    11/30/2017
    ···

    Not everyone is Christian Not everyone celebrates Christmas Never had anyone stop me from saying merry Christmas or happy holidays Pathetic to make this an issue It’s not political This season is for family and friends not for politicians Enjoy whatever holiday you celebrate

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  • Jennifer
    11/30/2017
    ···

    To those who thank Trump because they can say Merry Christmas again - is that the compensation you'll accept in return for all the destruction he's doing to democratic ideals? Shallow and irrelevant.

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  • Clay
    12/01/2017
    ···

    Best Christmas present ever would be the House voting for impeachment of my sitting President. Save our country, save our democracy, save our way of life. Remove this madman from the White House.

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  • Matthew
    12/01/2017
    ···

    I say Feliz Navidad, Happy Hanukkah to all, and a Joyous Kwanzaa to everyone. And to the Manchurian—I don’t know what greeting Putin approves of but may you have a decent one of those.

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  • Victoria
    11/30/2017
    ···

    I believe in the wonder of a young child's eyes as they see the magic of Christmas morning. I want to believe every legislator goes to Washington intending to, first do no harm to their citzens. I believe they want to do good work for their citzens. In reality, I trust the Child's eyes the very most. Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays for all!

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  • Mancos
    12/01/2017
    ···

    So as the Federal government shutdown looms, Trump will travel to SE Utah to drastically reduce Bears Ears and Escalante National Monuments, opening ruins and sacred land to mining and grazing. Between that and the “tax reform”charade, it’s shaping up to be a memorable holiday season.

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  • Sheryl
    12/01/2017
    ···

    How come nobody went to your little tree-lighting ceremony ‘Mr Popular Trump’? I thought you were America’s favorite President? Poor baby... tsk tsk

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  • Jerry
    11/30/2017
    ···

    Merry Christmas to all including Donald Trump and family.

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  • NoHedges
    12/01/2017
    ···

    Those who choose to live in the past often do so out of a desire for control -ie there are no surprises. Rather it takes far more courage to live in the present. Especially, when the future is one you are responsible for creating -an unpredictable outcome. Wisdom is a mindfulness appreciation of the past and bravery being the conscious protection of the future.

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  • Countryfirst
    12/01/2017
    ···

    Know what I want under the tree..trump and all of his family in handcuffs!! Yup, that would make my Christmas merry!

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  • GatewayJohn
    11/30/2017
    ···

    Hopefully DJT will avoid some ethnic religious comment at The National Holy Day Tree ceremony

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  • Lee
    12/01/2017
    ···

    Get real disgruntled people! Those who are critical of the Christmas Tree and the hate for this President should consider moving to another Country. Stop the non-sense. You are free to go! Merry Christmas!

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  • KansasTamale
    12/02/2017
    ···

    How about this - every budget must be voted on by ALL THE PEOPLE OF THE COUNTRY THRU MAIL IN BALLOT. IF IT DOESN’T PASS, THE CONGRESS HAS TO START OVER.

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  • SneakyPete
    12/03/2017
    ···

    Ah shucks.... Firstly folks “MERRY CHRISTMAS” and a “HAPPY HANUKKAH” to all, as appropriate, during the 2017 Holiday Season. If the President accomplished this, then THANKS. Secondly, let me say that I, for one, am sick and tired of the constant hatred being shouted forth on the airways and print media, towards OUR duly elected President. The opposition forecast, aided by their heavily funded agents including the cable and print media sources which are using all methods of propaganda, disinformation & distraction to damage and distort the President’s agenda. These are combined with the Democratic Obstructionist activities in the hallowed Halls of Congress to accomplish the DNC’s Political Agenda. They will, I’m certain, will ultimately fail doing so.

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  • Karen
    12/01/2017
    ···

    Please stop politicizing Christmas! I’m tired of hearing the propaganda that would have you believe there was ever a war on Christmas. This was invented by Bill OReilly to sell books and is still being perpetuated by our delusional carnival barker of a President. Focus people...

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  • Anne
    12/02/2017
    ···

    There is no war on Christmas! No one has ever stopped me from saying Merry Christmas. Don’t understand who some of you have knuckled down for! Or maybe it’s just another Republican conspiracy! Yeah, that’s it!

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  • Sandra
    12/02/2017
    ···

    Merry Christmas, Joyieux Noel (sp?), Happy Hannauka (sp?), Happy Kwanza. Felice Navidad (sp?)...We are a nation which has been called a "Melting Pot"...many came here for freedom...religious and otherwise...Particularly in this season of warmth and giving and unity...we should come together as families, as communities and as a nation. We need to celebrate those things that make us individuals and those that make us a nation...To all I wish you Peace...Happy Holidays to all...whatever and however you celebrate...Sandy

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  • Kate
    12/01/2017
    ···

    No, Blackhawk et al, Trump didn't bring back Christmas. It hadn't gone away. Happy, Merry, etc! https://www.npr.org/2017/11/30/567525913/fact-check-trump-s-pledge-to-restore-merry-christmas-to-the-white-house

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  • BeStrong
    12/01/2017
    ···

    What if ‘they’ gave a war and no one showed up. It’s a line from the 60’s. Well the ‘war’ against Christmas was that war. I have never felt compelled to decry Christmas. I’ve simultaneously been aware that this nation is built upon diversity, yet we are united. I say to all Countable folks, that I look forward to the lights, the trees, and even if just for the season, a kinder, gentler end of the Year. #grace #united

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