Tuesday, December 25, 2012

The Obamas' Christmas Day In Hawaii: Feasting, Gifts, Caroling, And A Visit With Troops

Mele Kalikimaka on Oahu, with a mainland-style Christmas Dinner...
President Obama and the First Family spent a quiet Christmas Day in Hawaii at their vacation rental house in Kailua doing what most Americans do on the holiday:  Opening gifts in the morning, caroling and feasting on family favorites.  The President and First Lady Obama also took a break from their own celebration to make what has become an annual pilgrimage to the nearby Marine Corps Base Hawaii for an afternoon meet n' greet with members of the armed forces and their families.  The service members where enjoying their own Christmas meal in Anderson Hall as the Commander in Chief arrived shortly after 4:00 PM.  (Above, speaking to the troops)

"This looks like it was a nice rather than naughty crowd, so I’m sure Santa treated you well," President Obama, clad in a short-sleeved blue linen shirt and khaki trousers, told the group, to laughter.

"One of our favorite things is always coming to the base on Christmas Day...And so we want to say thank you, we love you," President Obama said, mentioning that he was "born in Hawaii."

Though the outing wasn't listed on the President's schedule for the day, his visit was expected:  Service members had lined up for a few hours ahead of the President's arrival, one Marine told the pooler on duty.  The President hailed the troops for being "the finest fighting force in the world" and thanked the military families for their service, too.  He and the First Lady posed for photos with the service members and their families before departing.

To kick off Christmas Day, the First Family "gathered around 8:00 AM to open their Christmas gifts. They then ate breakfast and sang carols," a White House official said.

After, President Obama motorcaded to the Marine Base for a workout.  In the afternoon, the First Family paid a visit to the home of an unidentified friend in Kailua, spending a couple hours socializing as the press pool was held far away.

"In the evening, the First Family and friends will enjoy dinner at their home," the White House official said. 

Mrs. Obama revealed the Christmas Dinner menu in an interview last week, and noted that she planned to ignore her Let's Move! campaign for the holiday.

"There's turkey, there’s string beans and stuffing, a little mac and cheese," Mrs. Obama said. "This is the time when I throw ‘Let's Move’ out the window for a moment, and get that mac and cheese."

"Everybody deserves their mac and cheese."

Senior Policy Advisor for Healthy Food Initiatives Sam Kass, who is with the First Family in Hawaii, says that pie, the President's favorite dessert, is served as the grand finale to all Obama holiday celebrations.

Christmas Eve...
On Christmas Eve, the President played his second game of golf on the championship Kaneohe Klipper course at the Marine Base, joined by Hawaii friends from his boyhood, Mike Ramos, Greg Orme, and Bobby Titcomb.  They played for more than five hours.

Mrs. Obama, meanwhile, fielded calls for the NORAD Santa Tracker Program on Christmas Eve, chatting with nine families from across the US about Santa's whereabouts as he delivered gifts.  Santa had already doled out "three billion gifts," Mrs. Obama told one child during her roughly half-hour phone session, which started at noon.  She also professed a love for her girlhood Christmas gifts, noting her Easy Bake Oven and Barbies as favorites.

"That was one of my favorite toys when I was little.  I loved having my Easy Bake Oven," Mrs. Obama said.

"The children are so excited they had to collect themselves before they talked to you," a New Jersey mother told the First Lady. "Look, this just made their whole, like, life."

This year was Mrs. Obama's third as an operator for the NORAD program, from her rental home in Kailua.

Also on Christmas Eve, "the President made holiday telephone calls to US service members, then sat down with his family for Christmas Eve dinner," said the White House official.

The White House today announced that the President will be ending his vacation early, and departing Hawaii on Wednesday night at 10:00 PM, flying overnight back to Washington, DC, and arriving at the White House on Thursday morning at 11:45 AM.

The President hinted at his early return last Friday just hours before he boarded Air Force One for Hawaii.

"I'll see you next week," President Obama said to reporters as he made a final statement about the ongoing fiscal cliff negotiations with Congress.

The First Family, including First Dog Bo, arrived in Hawaii early on Saturday morning, just after midnight.  Activities have included golf for the President, dinner out at Morimoto Waikiki restaurant, the President and Mrs. Obama attending a memorial service for deceased Sen. Daniel Inouye, hiking, and beach time at Pyramid Rock Beach on the Base.  This year was the President's fourth annual Christmas vacation in Hawaii since taking office.

CLICK HERE for links to all Presidential vacation posts.

*The transcript President Obama's Christmas Day remarks.

*White House video.
  Top photo by Pete Souza/White House; second by Kent Nishimura, pool; First Lady photo by Pete Souza/White House