Melania wanted to believe that 2019 was her last Christmas. At least in terms of “putting on the ritz” for White House decor. This final year, well it wasn’t supposed to be an “involved” affair. At least not the way it was for their first Christmas in what has since been renamed to the Shithole House. There was still a chance then for Melania and company to get away with the go-to practice of sweeping nationwide (nay, worldwide) contempt for the Trumps under the rug. What’s more, of seeming to sweep time itself under the rug, as though taking us right back to the Reagan era of the 1980s, when Donald Trump himself was culturally relevant in a way that people (read: douchebag stockbroker types) revered. Saw him as something to aspire to, rather than something to gawk at in horror. Or rather, if you were one of his au courant “disciples,” hang on to his every deranged word in a manner that no one did in the 80s. Despite what “Mr.” (if such a term of “respect” can be used) Trump believed after releasing 1987’s The Art of the Deal (“co-written” a.k.a. entirely written by Tony Schwartz), no one gave him the credence he thought he deserved until he happened to tap into Middle America as a demagogue.
And with that demagoguery, he brought his 80s “ideals”–complete with Reaganomics, capitalism on steroids, etc. Perhaps this was why the “Art of Christmas” was played up so much on the campaign trail (which should have given more than an accurate indication of Trump’s total lack of cognizance of, well, much of anything in the way of “issues”). Enough for him to spout, “You go to stores, you don’t see the word Christmas. It says ‘Happy Holidays’ all over. I say, ‘Where’s Christmas?’ I tell my wife, ‘Don’t go to those stores.’ I want to see Christmas.”
No one can say Melania didn’t deliver on the “Christian” “president’s” pre-holiday demand. One supposes that’s why she went the uber white bread route with her first-year theme: “Time-Honored Traditions.” And yes, the most time-honored tradition of all is white-washing holiday celebrations by way of centering it entirely around bolstering the economy. In other words, right up the Trumps’ alley (and asshole). So it was that Melania “gushed” (granted, everyone knows that her “range of emotions” cannot connote any verb of the kind), “The President, Barron and I are very excited for our first Christmas in the White House. 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.”
People’s House? Girl was already smokin’ the good shit right from the start. One supposes you would too, if you were suddenly tasked with such a public role, when all you wanted was some sugar daddy funds (only to realize that there is no “sugar” to be extracted from that orange “daddy”). Now visions of sugar plums in lieu of daddies dance in your head all year round as you have nightmares about what the next “theme” should be when each and every one of them, of course, is exactly the same. Maybe that’s why Melania “dared to be different” with such a bold array of blood red trees that could never get her accused of being “too conventional” like the rest of the supporters who believed in Trump’s yarn about Making America White Again. Melania chose to make it red, to take major inspiration from the now immortalized hat that spawned the MAGA slogan. At least, however, her version of red was tinged crimson (this, by the way, was the very year she had complained of “working her ass off” on cultivating the “Christmas spirit”).
And as she walked down the hallways in her usual cold, clipped manner (making Jackie Kennedy look like she had all the friends in the world during that February 14, 1962 broadcast, A Tour of the White House with Mrs. John F. Kennedy), it genuinely seemed like a scene from the cutting room floor of The Shining. “America’s Treasures.” That was the theme. Oh god, this was all starting to sound like Gladys Leeman’s themes in Drop Dead Gorgeous (“Proud to Be An American,” “Buy American,” “U.S.A. Is A-Okay,” “Amer-I-Can!”). Apparently, America treasured making its denizens think of blood. All of it that had shed and continued to in order for power to be sustained and concentrated in one bloc. One “genre” of person. That it was the “detention center” year didn’t help people to stop making that kind of correlation.
So it was that Melania tried for something more subdued in her penultimate year as the First Lady (of Being Shady). This time, it was “Be Best.” It was just as vague in a Christmas setting as it was year round. Melania never had any idea what that initiative was supposed to do, other than somehow relate to the lives of children. Sure it did, if the intent was to solidify their belief that going to school didn’t matter–after all, you could ascend to the White House and coin an illiterate slogan without higher education. Michelle Obama, meanwhile, still knew deep down it was shade directed at her own instruction to “Be Better.” And as Melania clacked down the halls that year, there was an increasingly “fuck this shit” air. She was up past her expensively moisturized neck in the sentiments of “over itness.” Granted, she still tried to seem as interested as she could. While sitting in front of a miniature White House with numbers on the windows (like some eerie version of a Take-A-Number dispenser… would whoever got called next–likely an immigrant–be sent to the secret guillotine in the basement?). While sprinkling some dubious “white dust” (an excess cocaine supply from her husband’s 80s heyday?) on trees. While pretending to look cold (temperature-wise… she already had it down temperament-wise). While pretending to randomly straighten a red rose (who’s been painting her roses red?!).
As she traipsed down the tree-packed hall that year, you could tell this was all a fucking bore to her. And as the events of 2020 unfolded, she really did feel it would be the one year she could be expected to not have to simulate giving a fuck (the same way she no longer bothered simulating orgasms). But no, old Donnie gave his orders that it was of the utmost importance that she still made everything appear on the up and up. Appearances were, for some reason, more important than ever to him despite the fact that all veneers had been filed down long before the election, and definitely after the “press conference” at Four Seasons Total Landscaping (side note: were any trees for the decor purchased from there?). Melania, thus, genuinely thought she could be off the hook in even feigning interest in her already minimally executed duties as First Lady. But no, “the Don” of the family said, the show must go on, even when no one is watching anymore. Fine, she thought. They want one last fucking theme, I’ll give them one last fucking theme more incongruous than all the rest. Oh wait, Melania doesn’t know what incongruous means, despite embodying the definition of it for the past four years.
“America the Beautiful.” That’s it. Perfect. Not at all overtly sardonic in the face of a year that revealed in total, unmitigated non-glory just how “unbeautiful” America can be. Characterized by class and racial discrepancies that the internet age has made it impossible to conceal or suppress the way the Reagans could. It seems Don and Melan’ never got that memo, still trying to emulate these beacons of “celebrity”-turned-“Republican” “exemplars” of a decade that no longer applies. But at least Nancy and Ron could lay claim to having a (closeted) gay friend (Rock Hudson)–that is, before they turned their backs on him entirely after learning of his “condition” (AIDS). Melania, instead, had to settle for being “Auntie Gay.”
In a black pencil skirt and metallic-looking blouse somewhere in the silver family, she decides, for her last dance, so to speak, to scarcely be featured amid the final “festive” images she’s curated. It’s Xmas at its most decadent and tone deaf. In a year riddled with the plague and increasing calls to make drastic changes in order to curb climate change, Melania chose to fell countless trees and diminish further resources needlessly in order to furnish her “holiday home” one more time. A move that also seemed tailored to perpetuate the “nothing’s wrong here” mentality that the Trumps have adopted throughout his entire presidency, most markedly during coronavirus’ merciless tenure.
“Who gives a fuck about the Christmas stuff and decorations?” The answer, Melania, is no one. No one does more than you. Try as you might to play it off as a terrible burden that you never asked for. We all know you get off on doing it. And maybe some latently “wholesome” part of ourselves will miss all the sinister conventionality you brought to the Xmas game.
“But I need to do it, right?” Melania later added in the same aforementioned conversation she foolishly assumed was private. No dear, you never need to do it again. Save for from the confines of the Slovenian castle you’ll soon be relegated to.