The query seemed to stump Trump on his Christmas Eve call with troops around the globe. We do know what Jackie gave JFK during their last Christmas together in Palm Beach.
PALM BEACH — Three days later, it has not been disclosed what President Trump gave first lady Melania Trump for Christmas. But if he follows the example of a gift exchange by a first couple during a Palm Beach Christmas more than a half century ago, it would be pretty atypical.
It was a question from an intelligence analyst stationed in Kuwait that seemed to stump Trump on his Christmas Eve call with troops around the globe.
“What did you get Mrs. Trump for Christmas this year?” asked a U.S. Army intelligence analyst stationed in Camp Arifjan, Kuwait.
>>PHOTOS: Trump in Palm Beach: Christmas Eve
Trump leaned back in his chair in front of a teleconference screen at his Mar-a-Lago club as troops watched him, and the press corps assembled in the Southern White House hung on his every word.
“Oh, that’s a tough question. Well, I really should say, a very beautiful card,” Trump began. Then a delayed transmission reached the troops, who laughed, muffling his next comment: “You know, I’m working a lot.”
Trump, dressed in a dark blue suit and his characteristic red tie and seated on an ornate chair in the gold-leafed salon, continued.
“I got her a beautiful card, but actually I had a number of them picked and I picked the nicest one,” he said. “A lot of love and we love our family and we love each other, and we have a great relationship, like you do, hopefully, with your spouses. We have a great relationship.”
The response harkened back to an April 26, 2018, call to the Fox & Friends morning talk show.
“I picked a very, very special day because it’s Melania’s birthday,” Trump started the broadcast.
“Do you want to tell us what you got her?” a host posed.
“Well, I better not get into that ‘cause I might get in trouble. Maybe I didn’t get her so much,” the president said at the time. Then he added: “I got her a beautiful card! You know, I’m very busy to be running out looking for presents.”
Trump later reiterated on the show that he got the first lady a card and flowers before switching gears to foreign policy.
Just days ago in Palm Beach, Trump similarly worked to rephrase his answer to the Army specialist in Kuwait and the troops listening in from command posts in the Gulf of Aden, Afghanistan, Alaska and Missouri.
“I think I’ll answer that by saying I’m still working on a Christmas present, is that okay?” he said. “There’s a little time left, not too much, but there’s a little time left.”
Since then, the White House press office has not revealed what the president may have gifted the first lady.
Jackie's Christmas gift to JFK
But we’re guessing it wasn’t scrimshaw.
John and Jacqueline Kennedy spent Christmas in Palm Beach in 1962, their last one together.
A photograph from the day reveals a family gathering that included Caroline Kennedy, John F. Kennedy, Jr., the prince and princess of Poland, Sanislaw and Lee Radziwill, and family dogs Clipper and Charlie.
Archivists at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum in Boston could not say for certain what President Kennedy gifted the first lady that Christmas in Palm Beach 57 years ago, but Jackie Kennedy’s gift to the president was noted and later displayed prominently in the Oval Office.
“President Kennedy collected pieces of scrimshaw, which is basically artwork carved onto a whale’s tooth,” said Michael Desmond, an archivist at the Kennedy library. “So, that’s what she gave him for Christmas in 1962.”
It was a 9.5 inch commissioned scrimshaw whale tooth of the presidential seal by scrimshaw artist Milton Delano.
Such scrimshaws were often made by New England whalers. One 8.5 inch example from JFK’s extensive collection is on display at the Kennedy library and can be viewed online — a frigate on one side and a woman in a full-length dress on the other.
A note written on White House stationery to Kennedy’s secretary, Evelyn Lincoln, instructs her to place the gift on the president’s whale tooth base. Photos reveal the tooth was displayed on President Kennedy’s desk.
What’s more, the special memento will never be seen again: it was buried with the president after his assassination.
The president in same boat as many other husbands
The Trump White House did not respond to requests for what the president gave Melania this Christmas, nor what she might have given him.
Before finishing his chat with the expeditionary group in Kuwait on Christmas Eve, the president revealed that with less than a day until Christmas, he might still come up with a good gift.
“They were great questions, they were really – especially the one about Christmas gifts,” he told the troops. “You made me think, I’m going to have to start working on that real fast.”