Story at a glance

  • The First Lady oversees the annual Christmas decoration of the White House.
  • This year’s decor pays tribute to the women who fought for gender equality, marking the centennial anniversary of the 19th amendment’s ratification.
  • Several ornaments also honor first responders and frontline workers amid the ongoing pandemic.

In a year like no other, a few constants bring relief. Amid a global pandemic and turbulent presidential election, there will be Christmas at the White House. 

“I am excited to announce this year’s White House holiday theme, ‘America the Beautiful,’” said First Lady Melania Trump in a statement announcing the unveiled decor. “Over the past four years I have had the honor to travel to some of our nation’s most beautiful landmarks and meet some of the most compassionate and patriotic American citizens. From coast to coast, the bond that all Americans share is an appreciation for our traditions, values, and history, which were the inspiration behind the decorations this year.”


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That history, chronicled in the White House Library, includes a century since the 19th amendment was ratified and women gained the right to vote. At the base of the tabletop tree in the library is the winning art from a 19th Amendment-themed children's art competition held earlier this year, a nod to the girls following in the footsteps of the "pioneers for gender equality" at the centennial anniversary. 

Of course, there had to be some reference to the unprecedented events of this year and so the Red Room features ornaments and decor honoring the first responders and frontline workers called to action during this year's pandemic. And the annual tradition of the Gold Star Family Tree sits in the entrance to the East Wing, in memory of those who sacrificed a family member in military service. 


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Public reception is notably kinder - at least thus far - than past Christmases, from 2017’s "icy wonderland of lifeless foliage" to the red trees of 2018, dubbed by Slate, "red christmas trees of death.”

 

Perhaps in her last year at the White House, the First Lady has finally made her mark. 


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Published on Nov 30, 2020