Dinner on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day; gifts, caroling, church, and baby wrangling at Marine Corps Base Hawaii...
President Obama celebrated Christmas with the First Family and a close circle of friends in Hawaii, caroling, opening gifts in the morning, and enjoying Christmas Eve and Christmas Day dinner at his rental compound on Kailuana Place in the town of Kailua, on Oahu. The most amusing moment of Christmas came as the President held 8-month-old Cooper Wall Wagner for a photo op during a Chritmas dinner mess hall meet n' greet at Marine Corps Base Hawaii. The baby stuck his fingers in Mr. Obama's mouth as his parents, Captain Greg Wagner, 25, and Meredith Wagner, 27, looked on, laughing. (Above: The baby in action with the President, in a White House photo)
The President smiled and joked that the baby was thinking "I want some of that big nose.'"
Another baby, Adeline Valentina Hernandez Whitney, remained asleep as the President held her, while First Lady Obama cooed appreciatively.
"She's very excited to meet the president,'' Mr. Obama deadpanned about the one-month-old.
The White House released broad details about the Presidential Christmas.
“After making holiday telephone calls to U.S. service members last night, the President sat down with his family for Christmas Eve dinner," the White House said. The President called ten service members. Mrs. Obama also worked the phone on Christmas Eve, taking questions from kids wanting to know Santa's whereabouts through the NORAD Santa Tracker. (Above: A White House photo of the President making his calls)
Mrs. Obama told one young caller that she and the girls had been praying that the President "would be able to be with us" in Hawaii for Christmas; he'd been trapped in Washington, DC, by the House Republican standoff over the pay roll tax cut extension.
"We were all praying and praying, and asking Santa, and the tooth fairy, and every fairy they could think of," Mrs. Obama said.
Christmas Eve dinner for the First Family typically is steak, macaroni and cheese, vegetables, and pie, according to Mrs. Obama. "We only have steak" on Christmas eve, the First Lady told a a group of young patients during a holiday visit to the Children's National Medical Center in Washington, DC.
"Our girls love macaroni and cheese," Mrs. Obama said. "We have pie. Loooots of pie. The President looooves pie."
White House assistant chef and Senior Policy Advisor for Healthy Food Initiatives Sam Kass arrived in Hawaii last week with Mrs. Obama, and was reportedly on cooking duty.
The President also played golf at Marine Corps Base Hawaii for almost 5 1/2 hours on Christmas Eve, joined by Kass, his personal aide Marvin Nicholson, Chicago friend Eric Whitaker, and Hawaii friends Greg Orme, Mike Ramos, and Bobby Titcomb. Ramos and Ticomb are boyhood friends, and attended Punahou School with the President. Titcomb, a commercial fisherman, was arrested in April on suspicion of soliciting a prostitute, and it makes headlines anew every time he joins Mr. Obama for golf.
The First Family gathered on Christmas morning "around 8 a.m. to open their gifts," the White House said. No gift details were released, but last week President Obama made a shopping run to an Alexandria, VA Best Buy, where he purchased "Just Dance 3" and "The Sims 3 Pets," which he said were for daughters Malia and Sasha. (Above: The First Couple poses with a family)
The Obamas "ate breakfast and sang Christmas carols before departing for church services," the White House said.
They arrived at Marine Corps Base Kaneohe Bay Chapel at 11:08 AM local time, clad Aloha casual for the religious observance. The President wore a navy polo shirt and khakis, while the First Lady and Sasha wore sleeveless floral dresses. Malia was in a white dotted Swiss dress.
The President and Mrs. Obama returned to the Base at 3:36 PM to greet troops and their families in Anderson Hall, where the President had his run in with the babies. The Obamas had an outfit change from church: The President was dressed casually in khakis and a checked dress shirt with sleeves rolled up; the First Lady wore a yellow-green cardigan, teal camisole and a green patterned skirt.
The First Couple went from table to table, where the troops and their families were enjoying a Christmas dinner that included ham, potatoes, and stuffing. They greeted families, signed autographs, and posed for pictures, wishing all 'Merry Christmas' and 'Mele Kalikimaka,' the Hawaiian version of the salutation. President Obama asked a boy and a girl what they had gotten for Christmas (Legos and dolls, were the answers).
"Feliz Navidad," he said to a Latino family.
In the evening, the First Family celebrated with Christmas Dinner at home, according to the White House. No menu was released, but the White House in 2010 released a Christmas Day dinner menu that read, simply: "Steak, Roasted Potatoes, Green Beans, Pie."
The President arrived in Hawaii on Friday evening with First Dog Bo in tow, exactly a week after Mrs. Obama arrived with their daughters and aides, including Kass. No time was wasted in celebrating the start of the vacation: The President took family and friends out to dinner on Friday night at Morimoto Waikiki. The chic sushi/Asian fusion restaurant in Honolulu is owned by chef Masaharu Morimoto, best known as a star of the TV show Iron Chef/Iron Chef America.
Mrs. Obama, Kass, and the girls last Monday visited M'AO Organic Farms, where they had an aloha-style pizza party, joined by local chef Ed Kenney, who cooked Mrs. Obama's APEC Spouses Luncheon in November.
The President will be in Hawaii through January 1, and has no public events scheduled.
CLICK HERE for all 2011 White House holiday posts. CLICK HERE for all Holiday Photos of the Day.
*Photo at top, by Pete Souza/White House was Photo of the Day for the White House website on Dec. 26; inset photo by Pete Souza/White House; others by Getty/AP pool.