The Holly and the, well, just holly, nothing else.

OK, my unpopular and probably wrong opinion of the day: I don’t really hate the red Christmas trees.

The context, for those Gentle Readers who haven’t been inundated with the mockery thereof, most likely because they are reading this in The Far Future (Hello, The Far Future! So glad you have electricity!) is that the White House Christmas Decorations for this year include a hallway lined with “trees” that are bright red. This has been the occasion of much hilarity.

Here’s the thing, though: the rest of the decorations are not particularly memorable. They are the usual green trees (actual trees, mostly, I believe) tinseled to oblivion, jammed with lights, glass baubles, paper angels, pinecones, ribbons, bells, and a multiplicity of ornaments of various shapes and sizes and colors. I mean, it’s lovely, but it’s very traditional. Gaudy. Ongepotchket. Other than a whimsical wreath made of pencils (which I really like) it’s just very… predictable. Most of it doesn’t look to me as if there was an eye involved, a design, a deliberate choice.

And then, in the one hallway, there’s the green carpet and the red cones—no other decoration, no gobo on the ceiling, no baubles or bangles or bright, shiny beads. Just the conical frames of various sizes holding holly berries. Presumably artificial ones, without any greenery. It’s very striking. It’s eye-catching, it’s utterly different from the rest of the White House decorations, and it’s memorable.

Now, to be frank, I don’t really like it. It’s a difference from the busy traditional rooms, but not a rest for the eyes. It achieves its striking difference by being hard, and I think adding a simple, dark pine garland would have softened the look and been more pleasant while still being modern-looking and providing contrast. But I don’t hate it.

On the other hand, the mockery that the red Christmas trees are drawing is much more connected to Our Only President and his outrageously awful Administration, and that’s absolutely fair. Part of politics is the mockery of the political opposition over irrelevant trivia. I would hate for that to be diminished in any way. And much of the mockery has been brilliant. And some of it hasn’t been unpleasantly gendered abuse. So that’s all right.

As I was writing this, I was reminded that last year, this hall had the dead white branches, which were exceedingly creepy. So now I’m really enjoying the notion that there's one hall of the White House that is a stark modernist overreaction to all the overtinselled kitsch in the rest of the building.

Tolerabimus quod tolerare debemus,

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