Capitol Media Services
Tucson, Arizona | Published: 11.29.2007
PHOENIX — What do you call the big green thing decked with colored lights, balls and doves in the lobby of state Capitol tower?
Well, if you’re the governor, you don’t call it a Christmas tree. Instead, Janet Napolitano proclaimed it the “Holiday Tree.”
The governor formally lit the decoration this week in a ceremony. She also used the opportunity to promote “Hope for the Holidays,” a special program to provide gifts to the children of parents who are incarcerated.
So what “holiday” does Napolitano believe the tree symbolizes?
“I think we’re celebrating a number of holidays,” the governor responded Wednesday, while acknowledging that only one religion — Christianity — has a holiday associated with a tree.
“You can call it whatever you want,” she responded.
The “holiday tree” name met with amusement from Secretary of State Jan Brewer who, like Napolitano, has her office in the Capitol tower.
“It’s a Christmas tree,” she said while passing by the display. “Who are you trying to kid?”
And Brewer said if she eventually becomes governor and has the annual ceremonial duty of lighting the tree, that’s exactly what she will call it.
This isn’t the first time Napolitano has gotten crossways with Christmas.
In 2001, when she was attorney general, her office put out a memo listing “acceptable seasonal decorations” in common areas. They included snowflakes, icicles, garlands, poinsettia plants and wrapped presents — but not trees under which gifts could be placed, or Santa himself.
Napolitano said at the time the memo was crafted by a staffer, without her input, and appeared to be “overkill” but said some restrictions were appropriate for an office where people go to file discrimination complaints.
And Napolitano, already running for governor at the time, promised that the lobby of the Capitol tower would not be stripped of any seasonal decorations should she be elected.
“It’s going to be a Christmas cactus,” she quipped, something “appropriate” for the Southwest.