The Real Reason Donald Trump Canceled His Thanksgiving Plans

The 2020 holiday season is going to look a bit different for everyone this year. With COVID-19 cases surging across the country, many people are forgoing their usual holiday plans of big meals and house parties with friends and family in favor of spending time alone or with a small group of quarantined individuals. This health crisis will affect everyone's holiday, from the lowliest worker to heads of government. Case in point: President Donald Trump has drastically changed his Thanksgiving plans this year. 

The announcement that the first family's holiday schedule would be significantly different in 2020 comes on the heels of a tough few weeks for Trump, who has been more or less MIA since the 2020 presidential election was called for former Vice President Joe Biden. Aside from a stream of increasingly aggressive tweets, little has been seen or heard from the sitting president since the election was called on Nov. 7, 2020. Now, in this time of immense change for Trump, we're learning that his Thanksgiving plans have also changed. So what is he doing this year, if not fleeing to Mar-a-Lago? Read on to find out. 

Trump is breaking with family tradition this Thanksgiving

President Donald Trump spent his first three years in office shirking tradition when it came to Thanksgiving. Traditionally, presidents stay in Washington D.C. or make the short journey to Camp David to celebrate the holiday. Trump, however, did neither. Creatures of habit, Trump and first lady Melania usually migrated down to Mar-a-Lago in Palm Beach as soon as the weather started getting cold. Trump has spent so much time at his Florida estate and country club that it has been nicknamed the "winter White House" by the press, per the Daily Mail.

This year, however, Trump's press secretary, Stephanie Grisham, announced that the president, first lady, and (presumably) their son Barron will be spending the holiday at the White House. While the most likely explanation for the change in plans is the nationwide uptick in COVID-19 cases making travel dangerous, it's also possible the Trumps are staying home for another reason.

As of this writing, Trump has yet to officially concede the election to Joe Biden. He is waging legal warfare on states in which he claims the results were unfair. His legal team is based in D.C., which could be another reason for his decision to remain in the White House. That, or perhaps he's just not ready to be seen in public yet.

Trump has a weird history with Thanksgiving

President Trump's decision to spend the Thanksgiving holiday in D.C. is just the latest in a long list of notable Thanksgiving moves by the president. In 2019, Trump raised some eyebrows when he declared his intent to save Thanksgiving from the liberals, per The Washington Post. At a rally of about 20,000 supporters in Florida, he said: "We're going to have to do a little work on Thanksgiving. People have different ideas why it shouldn't be called 'Thanksgiving,' but everybody in this room, I know loves the name 'Thanksgiving,' and we're not changing it."

Trump's remarks were confusing because there didn't appear to be a well-known movement to change the name of Thanksgiving. While Trump might have thought his speech would win him some points among more traditional voters, it may have had the opposite effect. Regardless, his comments inspired a #WhatLiberalsCallThanksgiving hashtag to trend on Twitter (via The Washington Post).

Trump never clarified precisely who he thought was trying to change the holiday's name and why — which is just as well, considering that this November Thanksgiving will still be called Thanksgiving by most Americans, even if celebrations look a little different this year.

Trump's Thanksgiving plans are creating confusing

The announcement that the first family would be spending the Thanksgiving holiday in D.C. comes amid a flurry of confusion and conflicting information from the White House on exactly what to expect this holiday season. The overwhelming thought process has been that the fewer people you can be around, the better, given the rising COVID-19 numbers.

In this time of great uncertainty, the Trump White House hasn't clarified specifically what people are supposed to do. On Nov. 15, 2020, one of Trump's top advisors suggested that people spend the holiday with their elderly relatives rather than away from them, as most doctors advise. "This kind of isolation is one of the unspoken tragedies of the elderly, who are now being told 'don't see your family at Thanksgiving," said Scott Atlas on Fox News, adding that it's an excellent time to see family. This is more or less in direct conflict with what the CDC advises: Spend the holiday with people in your immediate household and no one else, per The Hill. To add more confusion to the mix, Kayleigh McEnany, a top spokesperson for the president, went on Fox & Friends and called the CDC guidelines "Orwellian," and un-American, per Politico.

No word yet on how many people the Trumps will be spending the holiday with and whether or not they'll be following CDC guidelines while they celebrate in D.C.