There’s no mistaking President Donald Trump’s Merry Christmas message — he wields it as a weapon against political correctness. For weeks, he’s been liberally sprinkling his public remarks with Christmas tidings. And then pointing it out in case anyone fails to notice. Trump has long promised that this year would be different after what he saw as a trend toward giving the Christian celebration short shrift in favour of a more generic and inclusive “happy holidays” message.
“Well, guess what? We’re saying ‘Merry Christmas’ again,” Trump announced in October at a Values Voter Summit of conservatives.
For all of that, though, it turns out the 2017 holiday rhythms at the White House are similar to those of years past.
The president participated in the annual lighting of the National Christmas Tree. The house has been decked out for the season with an array of traditional trimmings, including the longstanding creche in the East Room. There has been a whirlwind of parties — roughly 20 receptions and more than 100 open houses, including a reception to mark Hanukkah.
“It is as beautiful as it has always has been. It is as special as it always has been,” said Anita McBride, who served as first lady Laura Bush’s chief of staff.
The White House holidays under Barack and Michelle Obama also included plenty of Christmas trappings and cheer. Obama offered a more general holiday message on the official greeting card, but wished “Merry Christmas” at the National Tree lighting, on his Twitter account and in his weekly address.
Trump has expressed concern about a diminished Merry Christmas message for years. In 2011, he criticised Obama’s approach, saying on Twitter that the president had “issued a statement for Kwanza but failed to issue one for Christmas.” In fact, that year Obama wished people “Merry Christmas” from his Twitter account and gave a video address with his wife in which he wished people a “Merry Christmas and happy holidays.” Presidents George W. Bush and Bill Clinton also offered greetings marking Kwanza, the weeklong African heritage festivities in December.