The invitations have gone out for holiday receptions at the White House this year, despite the warnings against social gatherings by the CDC, the Surgeon General, and the White House coronavirus task force. The parties will go on “in the safest environment possible” according to the first lady’s spokesperson Stephanie Grisham.

The kick-off to the annual events celebrating the holidays at the White House begins with the arrival of the White House Christmas tree, which was delivered yesterday. First Lady Melania Trump welcomed the arrival of the 18 foot Fraser fir tree, delivered by a pair of Clydesdale horses at noon, as a military band played carols outside. The tree was grown at a West Virginia farm and will be displayed in the Blue Room in the White House. The first lady and her staff have been working on Christmas designs since June, according to a spokesperson.

The first lady, 50, welcomed the tree, as is customary, with a noticeably blonder hairstyle, along with a black-and-white checked coat, black gloves and over-the-knee black high-heeled boots; her husband, meanwhile, has made few public appearances since the Nov. 3 election.

According to a pool report, she spoke briefly to the owners of the tree farm and told onlookers “Merry Christmas” before returning inside.

This holiday season will be the last one for the Trumps and decorating the White House for Christmas and hosting receptions is seen as the last of Melania Trump’s official duties. Earlier this year, a former friend of Melania’s, who also was given a job in her office at the White House, wrote a tell-all book about Melania and included secretly made tapes of conversations. In one tape, Melania disparages being in charge of the holiday decorations. Apparently, Melania was speaking about criticisms of her work as the first lady.

The first lady has spoken dismissively in private about some of the rituals expected of her role — including overseeing Christmas decorations.

Those comments were secretly captured by Stephanie Winston Wolkoff, Mrs. Trump’s former friend and White House aide, who released the recordings in October.

The audio shows Mrs. Trump suggesting to Wolkoff that she felt stuck between ceremonial obligations and the detractors who slammed her for not doing more in response to the president’s controversial anti-immigration policies.

“They say I’m complicit. I’m the same like him, I support him. I don’t say enough, I don’t do enough, where I am? I’m working my a– off on the Christmas stuff … who gives a f— about the Christmas stuff and decorations? But I need to do it, right?” Mrs. Trump is heard saying on the tapes.

She continues in that clip: “Okay, and then I do it and I say that I’m working on Christmas and planning for the Christmas and they said, ‘Oh, what about the children that they were separated?’ Give me a f—— break. Where they were saying anything when Obama did that?”

For the record, I think Melania Trump gets a bad rap from those who take out their hatred of the president on her. She’s been a stellar first lady and has presented herself on the world stage with grace and dignity. There were no videos of her galloping down the steps of Air Force One in short shorts and t-shirts as we saw from the previous first lady or any awkward hugs to the Queen of England, either. I will miss her. She made some real contributions to the White House, especially to the Rose Garden. Last Saturday, she added a statue of Japanese-American artist Isamu Noguchi to the Rose Garden. It is the first piece of art created by an Asian American to be added to the residence.

This year brings new challenges due to the pandemic. There is concern that holiday celebrations will be superspreader events and the medical community advises against them, especially indoor events. She’s opened herself up for a fresh round of criticism over continuing the tradition of holiday receptions at the White House.

Mrs. Trump will host the first of such receptions next week, on Monday, according to an invitation obtained by ABC News. The Surgeon General said the rules apply to everyone, even the White House, during an interview on the network yesterday.

U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams told ABC News on Monday that the CDC’s tips “apply to the White House, they apply to the American people, they apply to everyone.”

“We want everyone to understand that these holiday celebrations can be super-spreader events,” he said in an interview with ABC News Senior White House Correspondent Cecilia Vega on “Good Morning America.”

Stephanie Grisham says that appropriate safety measures are in place for the receptions. It’s a personal choice, she says, if people want to attend or not.

This year’s events will take place at least partly indoors, on the State Floor, according to Grisham, who added that there are “smaller guest lists” and that “masks will be required and available,” with social distancing measures encouraged and hand sanitizer stations posted throughout.

“Guests will enjoy food individually plated by chefs at plexiglass-protected food stations,” Grisham added. “All passed beverages will be covered. All service staff will wear masks and gloves to comply with food-safety guidelines.”

“Attending the parties will be a very personal choice,” Grisham said. “It is a longstanding tradition for people to visit and enjoy the cheer and iconic decor of the annual White House Christmas celebrations.”

I’m just waiting for the pictures of the White House decorated for the season. Melania’s team has done a fabulous job each year.