We all have our own personal favorite Christmas traditions, our own little things that make our eyes twinkle like string lights. Me, I love when a brawl breaks out in a store because shoppers are getting testy over toys and televisions. The idea of kids getting coal in their stockings brings a smile to my face. I like to rewatch old Christmas specials and take the villains’ sides. Heat Miser, I feel, was very misunderstood.
You can imagine, then, how much joy I’ve found in Melania Trump’s White House Christmas decorations over the past few years. Finally, a first lady who understands that Christmas should be dark and terrifying! That first year, she took my breath away with the hallway full of vases holding bouquets of skeletal dead branches, lit from below so they projected nightmarish shadows on the ceilings. Yes, ice queen, if the Christmas décor doesn’t make you think of death, then get it out of here!
But the next year, Melania really topped herself with the red trees. Surely you remember them: the blood-colored cones that looked like they had been plucked out of a coniferous forest for muppets in hell itself. They were chilling; I have a picture of them saved on my secret wedding Pinterest board. The fun continued in 2019, when a series of star sculptures that resembled glass shards were hung from the ceiling of another hallway, and, what’s more, the first lady herself appeared in a video placing tiny wreaths in the windows of a dollhouse-sized White House in a display that could only summon an image of torturing tiny voodoo dolls.
All of this is to say that this year, I was expecting another house-of-horrors transformation, one last chance for Melania to dream up and execute a perfectly cursed Christmas tableau that would thrill Grinches everywhere. That’s not what happened, though. Instead we got this: a stunningly generic Christmas scene out of a commercial for Michaels, complete with ornaments, holly, red bows, and a miniature train. Just colossally uninspired. In the video, we at least still get to take in the strange sight of a stiletto’d-as-always Melania strolling through the decked-out rooms, admiring her handiwork—she is as good at looking at things as her husband is at holding books. But it’s a small consolation. Other years’ décor showed us that this is a woman capable of true darkness, that inside her soul thrives a garden of evil blazing shrubbery, so I really just can’t with the pretty lights and appropriate color schemes.
It boggles the mind. Melania, I thought you were one of us. (Any chance this was the work of Fake Melania?) This could have been her best haunted Christmas yet: In a lame-duck holiday season, no reason not to go all out and hire Ari Aster—or a conservative knockoff of him—to do his yuletide worst, right? I’m so disappointed. If I wanted a normal Christmas, I would have called the Pences.