Trump's 'Merry Christmas' pledge fails to manifest at his own businesses

Adam Gabbatt in New York

Despite railing against political correctness, the word ‘Christmas’ is curiously absent from Trump’s stores, restaurants and hotels

Donald Trump has repeatedly complained about the phrase ‘happy holidays’. Photograph: Nicholas Kamm/AFP/Getty Images

During Donald Trump’s presidential campaign he talked often about his determination to win one particular war. A war that had been raging for years, he said.

The war on Christmas.

But despite Trump’s repeated claims that “people are saying Merry Christmas again” instead of the more inclusive “happy holidays”, there are several places where the Christmas greeting is absent: Trump’s own businesses.

The Trump Store, for example. Instead of a Christmas gift guide – which surely would be more in keeping with the president’s stated desire for the phrase to be used – the store offers a holiday gift guide.

“Shop our Holiday Gift Guide and find the perfect present for the enthusiast on your list,” the online store urges.

“Carefully curated to celebrate the most wonderful time of year with truly unique gifts found only at Trump Store. Add a bow on top with our custom gift wrapping. Happy Holiday’s!”

The use of the phrase “Happy Holiday’s” [sic] in Trump marketing would seem particularly egregious. The long-standing “war on Christmas” complaint from the political right is that stores use the phrase “happy holidays” rather than the Christian celebration. It is offered as an example of political correctness gone mad, and as an effort to erase Christianity from American life.

Trump seized on this during his campaign, repeatedly promising that under his presidency people would be trotting out “merry Christmas” again. (He offered no proof that people had stopped using the phrase.)

He has continued to talk about it since then – including in July this year, when he told a rally that Christmas “was under siege” before his victory, and in a recent fundraising email.

But it’s not just the online Trump store that is failing to keep the president’s Christmas promise.

This week a visit to Trump Tower, Trump’s signature New York City erection, revealed that Christmas is not mentioned anywhere in the building’s public space.

A phrase that is mentioned: “Holiday”, specifically at the Trump Grill, where the “holiday menu” options include the Trump burger – it comes with cheese, egg and “brownie ala mode”.

The Capitol Christmas tree decorations before the holidays. Photograph: José Luis Magaña/AP

A flick through Trump’s Twitter account, and that of his businesses, show that for all Trump’s bleating about being able to say merry Christmas again, he and his businesses have never been big users.

Trump International hotel and tower, half a mile from Trump Tower, has used the term Christmas three times on Twitter in the past eight years. It has used “holidays”, in relation to the season, more than a dozen times.

Trump Tower has similarly betrayed the president’s hardline Christmas stance. “Happy holidays from Trump Tower!” the building’s Twitter feed exhorted in December 2016 – a month after Trump’s election victory should have represented the final blow in the Christmas war. It has used the phrase twice this month alone.

Going back even further, there is evidence that Trump has waged his own personal war on Christmas. After Trump bought a building close to Central Park in 1981, he refused to decorate the lobby for Christmas – part of a concerted strategy, according to the New York Times, to hound out residents from the building, so he could knock it down and build a big tower.

It wasn’t just a decoration issue. Timeline reported that the day after Christmas 1983, Trump filed an eviction proceeding against a tenant.

“That tenant, whose heating didn’t work for three consecutive winters, spent two years and $10,000 in legal fees as a result,” Timeline said.

As Christmas approaches this year, there is evidence Trump has revisited that Scrooge-like spirit by promising to shutdown the US government, ensuring more than 380,000 federal employees would go without pay over Christmas.

Trump might have promised to return “merry Christmas” to the nation’s lexicon, but he seems to be doing plenty to make the holiday season less merry for many in the US.