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The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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June 8, 2024

Opinion: How negativity stole White House Christmas

Photo by Creative Commons

The State Room on the White House decorated for Christmas.

“Just remember, the true spirit of Christmas lies in your heart.” — The Polar Express
All is calm and all is bright this holiday season — except when it comes to the White House Christmas decorations. 

First lady Jill Biden unveiled her White House decorations last Monday, Nov. 29. Of course, the reveal was trending on Twitter, and like most first ladies’ decorations, the reaction was mixed with love and hatred. I’ll be the first to admit — I’m judgey when it comes to decor. The moment I saw a headline about Biden revealing her Christmas decorations, I searched as fast as I could to see how she did. 
I, for one, love her decorations. Sure, the arch of the Christmas presents created quite the frenzy on TikTok, but I liked what she did with the place. Regardless, there isn’t a right or wrong way to decorate, whether you prefer a more traditional-style Christmas or a more modern one. If we’re going off tradition, Christmas is about celebrating the birth of Jesus or emphasizing the time with those we love. 

 Then it got me thinking — this cycle of hating, or loving, on White House decorations is a yearly event. It’s hard to forget the moment when America found out Melania Trump “didn’t give a f*** about the Christmas [decorations],” or when President Theodore Rosevelt “banned” Christmas trees. Every year, someone has something not-nice to say about how the first lady styled the trees and East Colonnade. There’s always going to be something the American people don’t like on Pennsylvania Avenue. 
At the end of the day, though, they’re Christmas decorations, not foreign policy decisions or gun rights. It’s apples to oranges. What does it matter?

What does matter is what each White House Christmas theme is. It’s tradition each year for the White House Christmas to symbolize something. Usually, the theme will be centered around each first lady’s cause or the circumstances of that year. It shouldn’t matter how those themes are portrayed — red trees, dolls or paper ornaments. 

You wouldn’t walk into someone’s home and tell them their floor stain looks tacky next to their cabinet paint color. So, why do it with the first ladies? Sure, it’s the people’s house and whatnot, but it’s the residents’ vision. Each first lady turns the White House into their own, just as the rest of America does with their own homes. 

You can disagree with what I’m saying; that’s the beauty of freedom. However, let’s take a break from petty, degrading comments about gingerbread houses and ornament choices for a second and relish what is important: our family, our freedom, our love of life. 

Many people won’t be able to find those things, especially with what the world has experienced these past two years. Be grateful for what you do have, and don’t waste your time being spiteful of what you don’t. 

What’s important is what the decorations bring to light.

Trump’s theme in 2018, for example, was highlighting patriotism. Laura Bush’s theme in 2001 brought awareness to the meaning of family after the 9/11 attacks. Biden’s theme this year emphasizes small acts of kindness that have helped Americans throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.
The important message each first lady presents every holiday season should be the main focus, not which type of tree she uses in the Blue Room or what’s on display in the East Wing. 

We all deserve a little grace, especially with the judgments that have risen out of these past two years. I think appreciating the meaning of Christmas — not the decorations — is something we all need.

Just think about how painstakingly long it takes to decorate the average American 2,300-square-foot home. Now, imagine being in charge of a 55,000-square-foot home. It’s all about perspective. 

Let’s all try to have a more positive attitude when it comes to one woman’s Christmas decorations. 

And who knows? Maybe your heart will grow three sizes, too!

Kaelin Connor is a psychology senior and opinion columnist for the Battalion.

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