This year, instead of jetting off to the warm sun of his Mar-a-Lago seaside resort in Florida, President Donald Trump has decided to spend the holidays at the White House.
According to Fox News, “the decision to celebrate inside 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue marks the first time since 2000 that the nation’s chief executive will enjoy festivities inside the mansion.” President and Mrs. Clinton, along with daughter Chelsea, were the last first family to enjoy a quiet Christmas on the second floor of the world’s most famous address.
In days past, it was the exception and not the rule, for a President to leave the White House for the Holidays. It was a given that he would stay at the residence, and in fact, he would invite, friend, family, and even other world leaders to celebrate with him and the first family.
In 1805, Thomas Jefferson, who played Christmas carols on his violin, celebrated Christmas Day with six of his grandchildren and over 100 of his friends. Thirty years later, Andrew Jackson’s children hung their stockings in the president’s bedroom and encouraged their father to do the same. Come morning, Old Hickory awoke to find his Christmas stocking stuffed with slippers, a corn cob pipe and a bag of tobacco.
But, perhaps the most famous and momentous Christmas Eve at the White House, was in 1941 when President Roosevelt hosted Britain’s Prime Minister, Winston Churchill. Just over two weeks after the bombing of Pearl Harbor and America’s entrance into World War II, FDR and Mr. Churchill stood in unison in the cold twilight on the South Portico of the White House to light the community Christmas tree.
“I spend this anniversary and festival far from my country, far from my family, yet I cannot truthfully say that I feel far from home,” the prime minister said in his message broadcast live across the world via radio. “This is a strange Christmas Eve. Almost the whole world is locked in deadly struggle, and, with the most terrible weapons which science can devise, the nations advance upon each other …”
“Here, in the midst of war,” he continued, “raging and roaring over all the lands and seas, creeping nearer to our hearts and homes, here, amid all the tumult, we have tonight the peace of the spirit in each cottage home and in every generous heart … Let the children have their night of fun and laughter. Let the gifts of Father Christmas delight their play. Let us grown-ups share to the full in their unstinted pleasures before we turn again to the stern task and the formidable years that lie before us, resolved that, by our sacrifice and daring, these same children shall not be robbed of their inheritance or denied their right to live in a free and decent world.”
Don’t get me wrong, President Trump may not be facing a world war, but in the wake of all of the recent controversy and upheaval in Washington, by staying right here in the White House he has shown a resoluteness in the face of ongoing crisis that is reminiscent of Churchill’s words, and a reminder that we should all come together and share God’s blessings, not as Democrats or Republicans – but as Americans.
A Surprise Visit
In another display of strength and compassion in the wake of controversy, on the day immediately following Christmas, President Trump and First Lady Melania, made an unannounced visit to US combat troops overseas. “President Trump and the First Lady traveled to Iraq late on Christmas night to visit with our troops and Senior Military leadership to thank them for their service, their success, and their sacrifice and to wish them a Merry Christmas,” White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said in a statement.
This is the first time Trump has visited U.S. troops in a war zone since becoming president.