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The 2019 White House Christmas Decorations Are Up, but I Really Just Miss the Blood Trees

Because nothing says "America in 2019" like a good-ole-fashioned, fresh-from-the-lot blood tree.

All photographs by Dan Swartz.

All right, I’ll be the first to serve up this scorching plate of a hot take: I miss the blood trees.

The White House unveiled its 2019 Christmas decorations today, and they’re fine—pretty much what you’d expect: not-so-subtle notes of patriotism, ribbon-bedecked garlands, enough sparkly balls and silver ornaments to outfit all the Michaels stores in Delaware. It’s conventionally tasteful, yet unexciting; a standard display of holiday cheer, something you’d see in a family-of-four’s living room or a Nordstrom lobby.

That is to say, a scene totally fit for a normal, run-of-the-mill union, which is exactly where we find ourselves today. Nope, no way—nothing to see here! Everything is fine! Totally fine! Look at all our sparkly balls, dammit!

We may have thought the blood trees were an apt description for 2018, with the Brett Kavanaugh hearings, Melania Trump‘s jacket, and the emotional rollercoaster that was Ariana Grande and Pete Davidson, but, oh man, was 2019 waiting in the wings ready to kick our asses. If there was ever at time when it would be apt for the mothership of our nation to be festooned with foreboding columns of sanguine malevolence, well, this would probably be it.

Instead, we have advent calendars and poinsettias, state flowers and crèches. (Oh, and a humongous gingerbread house that weighs a staggering total of 225 pounds—that is to say, almost 20 pounds less than our current president). All lovely, seasonal things, yes, but nothing that really embodies the silent scream of being an American in 2019 like a good-ole-fashioned, fresh-from-the-lot blood tree.

While the Christmas tree-like structures made of houses of cards seem to carry an overt message which I shouldn’t have to spell out for you, they’re lacking a certain panache. So, consider this my call-to-arms: Countrymen, demand our blood trees back! Because, really, what would help channel the jaw-clenching rage that beats behind our ribs and leaves half-moons in our palms, the whirling eddy of existential despair that churns wilder with every tweet and cable news announcement, like feasting our eyeballs upon a row of shimmering, deadly, bright red trees?

Nothing. Well, unless they wrapped Stephen Miller in faux evergreen and left him out overnight in the East Colonnade. That would work, too.

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Associate Editor

Mimi Montgomery joined Washingtonian in 2018. She previously was the editorial assistant at Walter Magazine in Raleigh, North Carolina, and her work has appeared in Outside Magazine, Washington City Paper, DCist, and PoPVille. Originally from North Carolina, she now lives in Adams Morgan.