The President and First Lady Wish the Nation Merry Christmas
PRESIDENT: Hello everyone, and Merry Christmas. As you and your families gather to celebrate the holidays, we wanted to take a moment to send greetings from our family—from me, from Michelle, from Malia and Sasha—and from Bo.
FIRST LADY: This is our first Christmas in the White House, and we are so grateful for this extraordinary experience. Not far from here, in the Blue Room, is the official White House Christmas Tree. It’s an 18-foot tall Douglas-fir from West Virginia and it’s decorated with hundreds of ornaments designed by people and children from all over the country. Each one is a reminder of the traditions we cherish as Americans and the blessings we’re thankful for this holiday season.
PRESIDENT: That’s right, especially as we continue to recover from an extraordinary recession that still has so many Americans hurting: parents without a job who struggled to put presents under the Christmas tree; families and neighbors who’ve seen their home foreclosed; folks wondering what the new year will bring.
But even in these tough times, there’s still so much to celebrate this Christmas. A message of peace and brotherhood that continues to inspire more than 2,000 after Jesus’ birth. The love of family and friends. The bonds of community and country. And the character and courage of our men and women in uniform who are far from home for the holidays, away from their families, risking their lives to protect ours.
To all our soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines and Coast Guardsmen—I have no greater honor than serving as your Commander in Chief. I’ve been awed by your selfless spirit, your eagerness to serve—at the Naval Academy and West Point. I’ve been energized by your dedication to duty—from Baghdad to the Korean Peninsula. Michelle and I have been moved by your determination—wounded warriors at Walter Reed and Bethesda, fighting to recover, to get back to your units.
And I’ve been humbled, profoundly, by patriots who have made the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom. In flag-draped caskets coming home at Dover. In the quiet solitude of Arlington. And after years of multiple tours of duty, as you carry on with our missions in Iraq and Afghanistan, your service, your readiness to make that same sacrifice, is an inspiration to us and to every American.
FIRST LADY: And so are your families. As First Lady, one of my greatest privileges is to visit with military families across the country. I’ve met military spouses doing the parenting of two—keeping the household together, juggling play dates and soccer games, helping with homework, doing everything they can to make the kids feel OK even as they try to hide their own fears and worries.
I’ve met kids who wonder when mom or dad is coming home; grandparents and relatives who step in to care for our wounded warriors; and folks trying to carry on after losing the person they loved most in the world.
And through it all, these families somehow still find the time and energy to serve their communities as well—coaching Little League, running the PTA, raising money to help those less fortunate than they are, and more.
But even these strong military families can use a hand, especially during the holidays. If you live near a military base, you can reach out through your workplaces, your schools, your churches. There are so many ways to help—with child care, with errands, or by just bringing over a home-cooked meal. Even if you don’t know a military family nearby, your family can still help by donating or volunteering at organizations that support military families.
PRESIDENT: You can also reach out directly to our forces around the world. Kids can make a card that will bring a smile to an American far from home. Adults can send a care package or a pre-paid phone card that makes the tour at little easier. Every American can do something to support our troops, even if it’s as simple as just saying thank you. For more ways to let our troops know you care, go to www.whitehouse.gov
So to all our men and women in uniform spending the holidays far from home—whether it’s at a base here in the states, a mess hall in Iraq or a remote outpost in Afghanistan, know that you are in our thoughts and our prayers. And this holiday season—and every Holiday season—know that we are doing everything in our power to make sure you can succeed in your missions and come home safe to your families.
FIRST LADY: And to all Americans, from our family to yours, Merry Christmas.
President Obama speaks to children at the Boys and Girls Club about the meaning of Christmas
3:49 P.M. EST
THE PRESIDENT: I think one thing that’s important to remember is that, even though there’s a lot of fun at Christmas, you know, you got — especially when it’s snowy like this, so it’s pretty outside, you got the Christmas tree, you got the Christmas cookies, you’ve got presents. You know, I think that the most important thing is just to remember why we celebrate Christmas.
CHILD: I know!
THE PRESIDENT: Do you know?
CHILD: The birth of baby Jesus.
THE PRESIDENT: The birth of baby Jesus, and what he symbolizes for people all around the world is the possibility of peace and people treating each other with respect. And so I just hope that spirit of giving that’s so important at Christmas, I hope all of you guys remember that as well. You know, it’s not just about getting gifts but it’s also doing something for other people. So being nice to your mom and dad and grandma and aunties and showing respect to people — that’s really important too, that’s part of the Christmas spirit, don’t you think? Do you agree with me?
THE PRESIDENT: You do? Do you have an interesting observation?
CHILD: I know why we give gifts to other people.
THE PRESIDENT: Why is that?
CHILD: Because the three wise men gave gifts to baby Jesus.
THE PRESIDENT: That’s exactly right. But the three wise men — the reason — (sign falls off wall) — uh-oh, I thought that was the cookies going down. We couldn’t have that.
You know, the three wise men, if you think about it, here are these guys, they have all this money, they’ve got all this wealth and power, and yet they took a long trip to a manger just to see a little baby. And it just shows you that just because you’re powerful or you’re wealthy, that’s not what’s important. What’s important is what’s — the kind of spirit you have.
So I hope everybody has a spirit of kindness and thoughtfulness, and everybody is really thinking about how can they do for other people — treating them well, because that’s really the spirit of Christmas.
Does everybody agree with that?
THE PRESIDENT: I agree with that. Well, you guys all seem like really sharp, sharp young people. And I’m very proud of you. And let me just ask you one last question. Is everybody here working pretty hard in school?
THE PRESIDENT: Okay, because the thing that I want everybody to remember, the most important message I can leave is, is that you guys have so much potential — one of you could end up being President some day. But it’s only going to happen if you stay focused and you work hard in school. And you guys — there’s nothing wrong with having fun and fooling around and playing sports and listening to rap music and all that stuff. But I want you guys to read and hit the books and do your math, because that’s really what’s going to determine how you do in the future. All right? That’s the most important thing you can do.
Watch as the White House cooking staff assemble an over 400-pound facsimile of the White House in gingerbread and white chocolate. Check out the tiny handmade wreaths, pine cones, garden, and the TINY WORKING LIGHTS!
First Lady Michelle Obama visits Children’s National Medical Center in Washington D.C. to read “The Night Before Christmas”. Joined by daughters Malia and Sasha, along with dog Bo, the First Lady continues this tradition of visiting with patients which dates back to Bess Truman.