Friday 23 August 2019

Christmas Tree arrives at White House for first Yuletide of Trump presidency

Melania Trump and her son Barron accompany the Christmas Tree to the White House (AP)
Melania Trump and her son Barron accompany the Christmas Tree to the White House (AP)

Melania Trump, joined by her son Barron, has continued a time-honoured tradition of first ladies receiving the official White House Christmas tree.

A military band quartet played holiday tunes as a horse-drawn wagon carried the 19 1/2-foot Balsam fir from Wisconsin up the White House driveway.

The first lady, wearing a holiday red turtleneck and a coat draped over her shoulders, and Barron, in a dark suit coat, white shirt and dark slacks, emerged from the North Portico.

They circled the tree and walked over to Jim and Diane Chapman, who presented it.

The Chapmans own a Wisconsin Christmas tree farm and won an annual contest sponsored by the National Christmas Tree Association.

"This is a beautiful tree. Thank you so much. We will decorate it very nicely," the first lady told the Chapmans and other members of their family.

"I hope you can come and visit with us."

The White House chief usher, who oversees the residence, and the grounds superintendent picked out the tree during a September scouting trip.

After Mrs Trump and Barron gave their symbolic approval, the tree was carefully carted off to the Blue Room where, after a slight trim and the removal of a monstrous chandelier, it will become the holiday showstopper for a president who has vowed to put Christmas back in the centre of the winter holidays.

During last year's presidential campaign, Mr Trump railed against the preference for saying "Happy Holidays" instead of "Merry Christmas", characterising it as a "chipping away at Christianity".

"And we're not going to let that happen anymore, folks. I'll tell you," the then-candidate said at a March 2016 news conference in Florida.

"A lot of times I'll say at the rallies around Christmastime we're going to start saying Merry Christmas again.

"You know, they don't say it anymore. The department stores don't put it up. We're going to start saying it again."


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