Instead, there she is, walking away from the camera. She is wearing a cream-colored coat, draped capelike, as is her wont, over her shoulders, and matching high-heeled Louboutin shoes, recognizable from their red soles.
Her face and arms are hidden, sleeves flapping empty at her sides. She may have to go through the motions, but she doesn’t have to stay for everyone’s judgment. She is exiting the scene.
It’s not exactly “I really don’t care, do u?” but it’s not what one might call welcoming.
Of course, perhaps the photograph was not meant like that. Perhaps it was meant as a way to defuse the situation so that she wouldn’t be caught off guard the way she was last year. Perhaps she didn’t want to draw attention away from the decorations themselves. Perhaps she is feeling, “I just can’t win.”
Perhaps the cream coat (an odd choice of garment to wear in a grand house where presumably there is heating, but maybe she wanted it for protection) is a gesture toward the white dove of peace, or a suggestion that it is time to wipe the slate clean.
Perhaps it is a nod to the white dress she wore for her first official Christmas, in 2017, which spurred comparisons to an angel. Perhaps it is a symbol of the fact that the year — and the decade — are on their way out. These are all possibilities.
And yet, given Mrs. Trump’s history of ambivalence with her role; given that, as The New York Times reported, according to Kate Bennett’s new unauthorized biography, “each thing she does has meaning to it, even the clothing she wears”; given that she knew these pictures were going around the world, and round the social media universe; and given that the choice of photo was under her office’s control, it is hard not to think that, while this may be the season of giving, the message is that she’s not giving anything away.