Monday, December 16, 2013

From Presidential Pie to Presents, Michelle Obama Shares First Family's Christmas Secrets During A Visit To Hospitalized Children

Joined by Bo and Sunny, the First Lady brings holiday cheer to Children's National Medical Center, continuing a tradition started during the Truman era...
Washington, DC - First Lady Michelle Obama settled an *important* question on Monday afternoon during a visit to the Children's National Medical Center, revealing that President Barack Obama's favorite Christmas treat is pumpkin pie.   

Her husband also thinks she's "bossy" about decorating the family Christmas tree, but all the same instead of coal in his stocking he will be getting workout clothes for his Christmas present, Mrs. Obama told a crowd of about sixty excited, pint-sized patients gathered in the hospital's atrium.

Accompanied by First Dogs Bo and Sunny, Mrs. Obama was in high spirits as she shared plenty of other tidbits about the First Family's holiday plans, and dished on her upcoming landmark birthday in January--or as she put it, turning "fifty and fabulous."

Clad in a grey sweater and grey slacks with her 'ombre' hair in loose curls, and seated on a loveseat with Sunny in front of a massive Christmas tree, Mrs. Obama even sang a few bars of a famous seasonal song, belting "chestnuts roasting on an open fire," before stopping and joking "oh, I forgot the press was here." 

Sunny kisses her mistress before settling down
The visit was Mrs. Obama's fifth to the hospital since 2009, continuing a tradition started in the 1950s by former First Lady Bess Truman.  After giving a rousing reading of 'Twas the Night Before Christmas, Mrs. Obama encouraged the kids to ask questions from where they were seated on the floor behind red and green velvet ropes.  Some of the kids were in wheelchairs; some had IVs in their arms. 

"I don’t take questions from the press," Mrs. Obama said, pointing to the pack of media confined behind their own ropeline.  "They will tell you that." 

As for her revelation about the President's pie love:  When Mrs. Obama was asked "what's your favorite Christmas treat to eat?" she responded "pumpkin pie," then pondered: "Is that considered a Christmas treat?"  

After the kids assured that it is, the First Lady added the detail about her husband.

"The President loves pumpkin pie," Mrs. Obama said.  "That’s for sure his favorite treat."

White House pumpkin pie
The President is America's most famous pie enthusiast, and nine different kinds of pie were served for the Obamas' White House Thanksgiving menu, including pumpkin.  White House Executive Pastry Chef Bill Yosses recently said the President's three favorite pie flavors are apple, huckleberry, and banana cream, but surely Mrs. Obama knows best.

Still, Mrs. Obama said that gifting her pie-loving husband with workout clothes is not because he needs to exercise all those calories off.

"He said that’s what he wanted," Mrs. Obama said, to laughter.  

"Don’t think--I’m not forcing my husband to work out...Don’t think-- there’s going to be some Let’s Move! joke about how I’m strapping him to the treadmill.  No, he likes to work out."

First Daughters Malia, 15, and Sasha, 12, will receive "small gifts," Mrs. Obama said, but added that her husband had "messed up" plans for Malia's present.  

"Malia wanted a cell phone, but then her father got it for her, and I was like, you messed it up," Mrs. Obama said, to more laughter.  "It’s like, that should have been a Christmas gift."

FLOTUS answers a question
The kids also wanted to know about Bo and Sunny's gifts, and Mrs. Obama made a show of covering their furry ears with her hands --"close your ears, close your ears," she said--before revealing the secret:

"They are getting chew toys," Mrs. Obama confided.  "Yes, lots of the hard ones because they chew their toys up."

The First Family will exchange their Christmas gifts in Hawaii; they have spent Christmas there each year since the President took office, in a rental home on Oahu, in the upscale town of Kailua.

"We’re going to leave Friday," Mrs. Obama said.  "So we hang our stockings in the house that we stay in."

Getting toys was her own favorite Christmas tradition as a child growing up on Chicago's South Side, Mrs. Obama said:  "That was a great tradition.  I loved that."
"No, I’m serious...I loved Christmas Eve, when you knew you were going to get toys, and then Christmas morning, when you got the toys!  This is a great tradition!"

The kids agreed, enthusiastically.  Her favorite toy as a girl:  "I loved Barbie dolls, and I had everything Barbie," Mrs. Obama said.  "I had the townhouse and the car and all the little outfits, and the shoes that never stayed on their feet.  So you lose the shoes."

Mrs. Obama said her visit to the hospital is one of her favorite holiday rites now that she's left childhood behind.  She toured the Medical Care Unit before her atrium visit, spending time with children confined to their beds as well as with doctors, nurses, and staff.  "This right here, this is a great gift," Mrs. Obama said.

"Fabulous and fifty"
Asked about her upcoming birthday on Jan. 17th, 2014, Mrs. Obama said she has not finalized the celebration.  "I’m going to be fifty.  Yes, fifty.  Fifty.  Fifty and fabulous," Mrs. Obama repeated, as if she couldn't believe it.  

"I’m not exactly sure yet what I’m going to do, but it might involve some dancing.  A little Dougie."

The First Lady has done plenty of dancing to promote Let's Move!--including on national television with comic Jimmy Fallon--and The Dougie is among her signature moves.  At the President's private fiftieth birthday party at the White House, the First Couple and their guests--including a dazzling array of celebrities--did the Electric Slide in the East Room.

Mrs. Obama had more to say about growing older: She is not a fan of white Christmases, she said.  She loved snow as a child, and believed Santa needed it to land on the roof, but now she's an adult, snow is "a hassle," she said.

"The truth is, now that I’m older, I prefer a Christmas without snow," Mrs. Obama said.  

"When you’re older, old people, snow is a hassle.  You’ve got to shovel it.  And then when the ice forms on your car window shield, there’s nothing worse than scraping that off....that’s kind of a hassle."

Sunny, who joined the First Family last August, has not yet seen snow, Mrs. Obama said, though Bo loves to play in it. 

As she ended her visit, Mrs. Obama gleefully admitted that the President thinks she's too "bossy" when it comes to decorating Christmas trees.  There are 44 trees in the White House, she explained, and volunteers from across the US arrived right after Thanksgiving to do most of the decorating for the 'Gather Around' decor theme.

"Because there’s no way that we can do it," Mrs. Obama said.  "Although the President, he always tells people that he did everything--but between you and me, he does nothing."

The President did, however, decorate the First Family's own Christmas tree in the Yellow Oval Room, Mrs. Obama said.  Staffers decorated half the tree, she said, because "it’s a big tree--it would take forever to finish--and they leave some ornaments." 

"And this year, I have to say, the President actually put most of the ornaments on the tree--because he says I’m bossy, so I just sat back and let them do it," Mrs. Obama said.

"So he and Sasha did most of the work, and me and Malia, we drank a lot of hot chocolate." 

Before bidding the children farewell, Mrs. Obama urged them to "study hard" and "be good" and "listen to your parents," and tossed in a pitch for Let's Move!, too.

"Be good, even after Christmas is over," she said.  "Be good, eat your vegetables."

A long view of Mrs. Obama and the kids in the atrium
Mrs. Obama escorted Bo and Sunny, on their leashes, along the ropeline that separated her from the crowd, greeting the kids and their families for about fifteen minutes, kneeling down and chatting as the children patted the family dogs.  

Then, like Santa, in the twinkling of an eye the First Lady was gone in a flurry of waves, as the smartphone-toting crowd snapped photos of her exit.

Mrs. Obama will continue to host holiday parties at the White House through the end of the week before departing for Hawaii.  This Thursday, she will visit Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling where she will deliver toys and gifts donated by Executive Office of the President staff to the Marine Corps’ Toys for Tots Campaign. 

On Sunday evening, the President and Mrs. Obama taped TNT's Christmas in Washington, a benefit concert for the hospital.  It will air on Friday night as the First Family is on the way to Hawaii. 

The First Lady reading 'Twas the Night Before Christmas:

*CLICK HERE for links to all holiday posts.


*Photos by Eddie Gehman Kohan/Obama Foodorama; White House video