The White House has unveiled this year's Christmas theme and decor
[PDF]. Lavishly decorating the White House for Christmas has become an American tradition, second only to the better American tradition of combing through each minuscule decision made or decorative trinket displayed, looking for an opportunity to be offended or, far better, hints of a secret underlying plot.
For conspiracy theorists, things start off swimmingly:
The theme for the White House Christmas 2011 is Shine, Give, Share - celebrating the countless ways we can lift up those around us, put our best self forward in the spirit of the season, spend time with friends and family, celebrate the joy of giving to others, and share our blessings with all.
Shine, Give, Share Décor – The theme translates to the holiday décor on several levels. There is the literal translation through the use of shiny elements – star motifs, quartz and metallics like copper, aluminum and mirrored paper. There is also a conceptual connection – we’re inviting visitors to give their thanks to members of our military, and have once again invited guest artists to share their talents working with the White House. This year’s décor also includes handmade decorations crafted from simple materials – paper, felt, and even recycled cans. These are projects that anyone can do at home using readily available materials that are inexpensive or free.
Shine is safe enough, I suppose, but I can think of few things more suspiciously communist than giving and sharing. While "look at all these sparkly things!" is a fine Christmas tradition, those other things sound like indoctrination. Sharing? Giving? It hints suspiciously at a plan to tax the rich.
Also, real Americans do not spell decor with ethnic-looking symbols. I refuse to acknowledge whatever language it is that the word decor came from, but it is ours now.
From there, we can go down the list room-by-room, as described by the White House release. There will be a tree dedicated to fallen servicemembers: good. There will be a display of cards and letters in the 2,700-book-filled library: bad. There is a mention of the last president, which is good:
The George W. Bush State China is displayed in the China Room, set for a wonderful holiday gathering in celebration of the time-honored tradition of sharing meals with our families and friends.
But I note the plates will all be empty, possibly as a subtle reminder of all the families that cannot actually afford food, thanks to the Bush-era recession foisted on us: bad. The Green Room, on the other hand, is decorated with "handcrafted, glittering trees made of recycled aluminum," which sounds strange indeed, and the four-treed East Room has been "transformed into a wintery scene." The White House chooses to tell us this bit of history:
Since 1835, when President Andrew Jackson created an indoor winter wonderland for children—complete with a cotton ball snowball fight—the East Room has been part of the White House holiday tradition.
Which is a charming story up until you remember who probably was picking all those cotton balls, back in 1835.
All and all, it sounds like a splendid and festive time. No doubt the inevitable HGTV special will barely do it justice.
Our task, though, is to preemptively pick apart the holiday cheer in order to determine what might best produce offense to Republican pundits and pseudo-pundits looking for a fight to pick. Think of it as a bit of charity on our part, in keeping with the godless communism of the season. My predictions are that by tomorrow, the brain trust that is Fox & Friends will have settled on one of the following core complaints:
1: There are a total of 37 Christmas trees on display. But what about austerity? Thirty-seven seems ostentatious in the extreme, at a time when the government ought to be tightening its belt. Why couldn't we get by with 20?
2: The 400-pound gingerbread house. That doesn't sound very healthy, which means that the First Lady is probably a hypocrite.
3: The released recipe for the White House pumpkin cake with orange cream cheese frosting does not mention God.
Predicting these things in advance is always a bit tricky, in part because if you actually win at it, your only prize is the knowledge that you were able to think like a Fox News talking head. When you put it like that, it makes losing seem the better proposition. So I'm hoping they come up with something unusual enough as to not be predictable: Perhaps a short monologue on the suspicious ethnic origins of nutmeg, or a tsk-ing that the aluminum was recycled instead of forged specially for the occasion over a fire stoked with puppies and mortgage foreclosure statements. We need a humdinger, to shake us out of the boring doldrums of the usual War-on-Christmas season. Bill O'Reilly, perhaps, looking sternly at the camera and saying "it seems like if this administration truly loved Christmas, Bo the dog should be dressed up as the baby Jesus" or the like.
That's what Reagan would have done, anyway. None of this nonsense about Give and Share fouling up the season. And a pumpkin cake recipe that does not mention God is nothing more than a culinary gateway to hell.