The annual unveiling of Melania Trump’s White House Christmas decorations is always an event. But anticipation was especially high for 2020’s makeover, which the First Lady tweeted out on Monday—less than two months after she was unwittingly outed as a Grinch. The reveal came courtesy of Trump’s former senior adviser, Stephanie Winston Wilkoff, who leaked the audio of one of their 2018 phone calls.
“They say I’m complicit. I’m the same like him, I support him, I don’t say enough, I don’t do enough,” Trump says, referring to her husband. “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? Correct?” (“One-hundred percent. You have no choice,” Wilkoff responds.)
For three years now, Trump has had great success with pretending to “give a f…” She’s seemingly kicked into high gear around the winter holidays, embracing her decorative duties with aplomb. This year, she endeavored to do no different, putting on a brave face for the video tour of her handiwork. But the revelation is far from forgotten; the hashtag “#MelaniaHatesChristmas” started trending as soon as she tweeted about “this special time of the year.”
The video tour jumps around, but the atmosphere real-life visitors first encounter is somewhat funereal. As usual, there’s the Gold Star Family Tree, a tribute to Americans who died in service. This year, surviving family members decorated it with ribbons containing their names. Next up is a hall lined with black vessels that the White House itself identifies as “urns,” containing the official tree and foliage of each U.S. state and territory.
From there, things start to lighten up. Christmas trees abound, and nods to the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment join the usual ones to Trump’s “Be Best” campaign. But there’s another morbid detail to be found in the Red Room, which is now a space to salute first responders and frontline workers. As casually as the gingerbread house set up in the State Dining room, there’s a glittery display of a miniature hospital and emergency room. It doesn’t help that the blood-red surroundings call to mind Fifty Shades of Grey, The Shining, and Twin Peaks.
Is it Trump’s finest work? Far from it—even though she allegedly worked her “ass off.” Then again, does the White House really need a blood-red makeover to resemble dystopia?