Trump, who this week ordered a blow to the National Park Service with the largest-ever rollback of federal land protection, took the podium from Zinke. He noted that in 1870, President Ulysses S. Grant signed legislation making Christmas a federal holiday. “I sort of feel like we’re doing that again,” he said. “That’s what’s happening.”
Later that evening, he wrote on Twitter, “It is my tremendous honor to finally wish America and the world, a very MERRY CHRISTMAS!”
Hearing the words would have come as a relief for millions of Americans who disagreed with President Obama’s decision to repeal Christmas. Recall that when Congress tried to tell him to stop, he said, “No way, no, no, no. I am Obama, and I do what I like. Political correctness!”
For eight bizarre years, the south lawn was dark and empty. There was an iron pentagram on a tower that said “Happy Holidays.” In the place of the National Christmas Tree, there was a glowing orb that emitted shrieking sounds. Anyone who touched it was overwhelmed by sexual urges. One passer-by saw the display and said, “That’s not very Christmas!” He was never seen again.
That is one version of history, of course, barely exaggerated from the narrative created by some conservative media outlets. The accurate version is that Obama had eight trees, one per year, just as every president did. He wished citizens “Merry Christmas” thousands of times. And even though the Trump White House put out a press release after this year’s event titled “At Christmas Tree Lighting, President Trump Revives the Tradition’s Religious Spirit,” his gesture to Christianity was limited to the line, “Whatever our beliefs, we know that the birth of Jesus Christ and the story of his life forever changed the course of human history.”
At last year’s tree lighting, Obama told the story of the birth of Jesus:
Along with celebrations like these, the holidays also offer us a time for reflection and perspective. And over these next few weeks, as we celebrate the birth of our Savior, as we retell the story of weary travelers, a star, shepherds, Magi, I hope that we also focus ourselves on the message that this child brought to this Earth some 2,000 years ago — a message that says we have to be our brother’s keepers, our sister’s keepers, that we have to reach out to each other, to forgive each other. To let the light of our good deeds shine for all.
Obama also argued that to celebrate Christmas is not necessarily to exclude other holidays, since some of the messages are universal. He said that the basic message behind this parable is what “grounds not just my family’s Christian faith, but that of Jewish Americans, Muslim Americans, nonbelievers—Americans of all backgrounds.”
It could of course be argued that the tree-lighting ceremony is simply a Christmas-themed event, and no mention of other holidays is necessary. Though Trump did mention another holiday, closing his remarks with: “Merry Christmas, Happy New Year, thank you.”