President, First Lady grace star-studded fundraiser for the Children's National Medical Center in DC...With video
Christmas is in full swing in Washington, DC, and on Sunday evening, President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama, accompanied by daughters Malia, 12, Sasha, 9 and Grandmother in Chief Marian Robinson, attended the taping of Turner Network Television's annual Christmas in Washington spectacular, held at the National Building Museum. The special, a benefit for Washington, DC's the Children's National Medical Center, featured an international cast of performing artists. It will premiere on Dec. 17. Now in its twelfth year under Turner's banner, TV chat show host Ellen DeGeneres did the honors as emcee. (The First Family with the star-studded cast of performers and host DeGeneres)
DeGeneres introduced a cast of performers that spanned the globe: Superstar (and pregnant) songstress Mariah Carey, Nickelodeon's teen star Miranda Cosgrove, legendary singer/songwriter Annie Lennox of Scotland; R&B singer Maxwell, Italian tenor Andrea Bocelli, and Matthew Morrison of "Glee" fame. (Above: Santabama, helped by elves, places a basket of gifts from the White House under the on-stage Christmas tree)
A glittering Christmas tree, laden with presents, was center stage in the holiday bedecked auditorium, and the evening opened with a ceremonial placing of a special White House gift under the glowing, beribboned tree.
The White House donated a huge basket of gifts--featuring President Obama's new children's book Of Thee I Sing: A Letter to My Daughters front and center. A gang of kids costumed as Santa's elves, ages 2-7, were charged with placing it under the tree with the other gifts.
"It's too heavy," the President said, pretending to need help picking up the basket. The elves scurried to assist the President, who towered 0ver them.
"Did you guys come from the North Pole?" The President asked.
Actually the elves were the the kids and grandkids of DC locals, including Rep. Doris Matsui (D-CA), Rep. Dan Lungren (R-CA), CNN reporter Jim Acosta, and a staffer for Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska). Or however you spell her name, if you're an Alaskan voter. (Above: As Mrs. Obama and Mrs. Robinson look on, the President practices dealing with Congress as he gives the elves their marching orders)
The youngest elf, carrying a teddy bear, decided to make a break for it and darted away. Mrs. Obama, wearing a black, mid-calf length gown and dangly earrings, ran after the wayward elf, and picked up the little girl, then posed with her in her arms for a formal photo. (Above: The Mom in Chief becomes Elf Wrangler in Chief)
As the camera bulbs flashed the President let out a hearty ""Ho! Ho! Ho!"
"Can you guys 'Ho Ho?'" The President asked the elves.
They could, and did.
The President's remarks:
During the musical performances, which featured holiday faves, the First Family sat in the front row.
The President was seated by Jeff Bewkes, Chairman and CEO of Time Warner Inc, while Mrs. Obama sat next to her mother, Marian Robinson. DeGeneres' wife, actress Portia de Rossi, was also seated with the First Family (above).
All rose as the National Anthem was sung, and then the caroling began.
Toward the end of the program, DeGeneres invited the First Family to the stage, where they received a standing ovation.
The President gave a brief, Christmas-themed speech, making it clear he is not in fact, er, a Muslim, which more than 20 percent of Americans believe, according to two different polls taken a few months ago. (Above: The Present sends holiday greetings, accompanied by Mrs. Obama and Malia)
"Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays everybody," President Obama said, and re-told the Christmas story in the New Testament. He encouraged the audience to remember others during the holiday season.
"We are called to love each other as we love ourselves. We are our brother's keeper and our sister's keeper," President Obama said. "It's a message that guides my Christian faith."
"We pray for our troops," The President said. "From our family to yours, happy holidays and Merry Christmas."
To close out the show, the First Family joined the performers in a rousing rendition of "Hark the Herald Angels Sing." (Above: The First Family poses with the elves)
Related White House TV: Mrs. Obama appeared on DeGeneres' show in October, and Nickelodeon is one of the partners with Let's Move!. This evening, HGTV kicked off the White House Christmas Holiday TV fest, with White House Christmas 2010. ABC's Barbara Walters has already done a special Thanksgiving show with the President and First Lady, which had as a sub-theme "bah humbug, Sarah Palin!"
*The holiday special airs Friday, Dec. 17, at 8 PM (ET/PT). Check your local listings.
*Top photo by Pete Souza/White House; other photos from Getty/Pool