Though every president since 2002 has made a habit of visiting the troops on Christmas, President Donald Trump broke from the pack this year, staying home instead.
The missed opportunity was flagged by NBC News, which reported on Tuesday that a review of the network’s logs and news releases confirmed that former presidents Barack Obama and George W. Bush both adopted the tradition during their time in office.
From 2009 to 2016, Obama traveled to Hawaii’s Kaneohe Bay Marine Corps base every Christmas. Before that, from 2003 to 2008, Bush made regular appearances at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center to spend time with wounded warriors.
Though Trump skipped out on making the rounds this season, he went to Walter Reed in 2017 on Dec. 21 to see injured troops.
On Tuesday, the commander in chief opted for digital holiday greetings, calling military members around the globe and video conferencing with them from the Oval Office.
“I’m thrilled to speak to you on behalf of our country ... in representing this beautiful Christmas Day in the United States,” he told them. “I know it’s a great sacrifice for you to be away from your families, but I want you to know that every American family is eternally grateful to you, and we’re holding you close in our hearts. Thoughts and prayers. We’re all praying for you.”
Last month, Trump became the target of scrutiny for ditching a visit to Arlington National Cemetery on Veterans Day, later explaining to Fox News that he was “too busy” to go.