Michelle Obama photo

Remarks by the First Lady at the Children's National Health System

December 15, 2014

MRS. OBAMA: All right. We're ready. I'm going to read "The Night Before Christmas." How many people have heard this story? All right.

CHILD: Can we see the cover?

MRS. OBAMA: You want to see the cover, yes. Of course. (Laughter.) Well, this is -- sometimes the covers are different. So you may recognize the story with a different cover. It's Santa! Everybody, let's give Santa a big hello. (Applause.)

SANTA: Merry Christmas!

MRS. OBAMA: And let's give Aaron and Kyra a big hello! Yay! (Applause.) All right, here we go. "The Night Before Christmas." You ready, Bo? Okay. He's ready. Hi, Sunny. Sunny, sit, sit down -- wait, she's listening. All right, ready?

'Twas the night before Christmas when all through the house not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse -- it's very quiet at the house. What do you think is going to happen?

CHILD: At the White House?

MRS. OBAMA: Well, this is somebody else's house, not at the White House. (Laughter.)

The stockings were hung by the chimney with care in hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there. The children were nestled all snug in their beds while visions of sugar plums danced in their heads. Have you ever had sugar plums dancing in your head?


MRS. OBAMA: You have? (Laughter.)

CHILD: I have!

MRS. OBAMA: She has.

And mom in her kerchief, and I in my cap had just settled our brains for a long winter's nap. So everybody is asleep -- what do you think is going to happen? We're going to find out! Santa Claus might come.

When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter, I sprang to the bed to see what was the matter. Away to the window I flew like a flash, tore open the shutters and threw up the sash -- oh, it's a mystery. Who do you think is there?


MRS. OBAMA: Let's find out. The moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow gave the luster of midday to objects below. When what to my wondering eyes should appear but a miniature sleigh and eight tiny reindeer.

CHILD: I knew it was Santa!

MRS. OBAMA: You knew it was Santa! It's a Christmas story, who else would it be? (Laughter.) With a little old driver all jolly -- lively and quick, I knew in a moment it must be St. Nick -- it was you!

SANTA: Ho, ho, ho!

MRS. OBAMA: The mystery has been uncovered! More rapid than eagles his coursers they came, and he whistled and shouted and called them by name -- say them with me. Do you know the --

CHILD: No. (Laughter.)

MRS. OBAMA: Here we go -- now, Dasher, now, Dancer, now, Prancer and Vixen, on Comet, on Cupid, on Donder and Blitzen. Who's missing, though?

AUDIENCE MEMBER: Rudolph. What happened to Rudolph, Santa?

SANTA: He's there.

MRS. OBAMA: He's there, he's there.

CHILD: -- they didn't know --

MRS. OBAMA: They didn't know about Rudolph then. Do you think -- was Rudolph born when -- during this story?

SANTA: Just before.

MRS. OBAMA: Just before. He was a baby. To the top of the porch, to the top of the wall, now, dash away, dash away, dash away, all! As dried leaves that -- before the wild hurricane fly when they meet with an obstacle mounts to the sky. Santa is very exciting.

So up to the house top the coursers they flew with a sleigh full of toys and St. Nicholas too. Did everybody tell Santa what they wanted for Christmas?


CHILD: I want a cat for Christmas.

MRS. OBAMA: You want a cat? (Laughter.)

CHILD: Yeah, a kitty cat.

MRS. OBAMA: Kitty cat. Okay, mom, dad, you hear that? And then in a twinkling I heard on the roof the prancing and pawing of each little hoof. As I drew in my head and was turning around, down the chimney St. Nicholas came with a bound. He was dressed all in fur from his head to his foot, and his clothes were all tarnished with ashes and soot. Why do you think Santa's clothes were dirty?

CHILD: He had to come down the chimney.

MRS. OBAMA: He went down the chimney, that's right. A bundle of toys he had flung on his back, and he looked like a peddler just opening his pack. His eyes, how they twinkled, his dimples, how merry. His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a --


MRS. OBAMA: Cherry, yeah. It's kind of cherry-like, Santa. His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow, and the beard of his chin was as white as the --


MRS. OBAMA: Snow. The stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth, and the smoke, it encircled his head like a wreath. He had a broad face and a little round belly that shook when he laughed like a bowl full of jelly.

SANTA: Ho, ho, ho!

MRS. OBAMA: You hear that? You've got a really great laugh, Santa. We love your laugh.

He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf, and I laughed when I saw him in spite of myself. A wink of his eye and a twist of his head soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread. There's no reason to be afraid of Santa, right? No. Santa --

CHILD: I'm not afraid.

MRS. OBAMA: I'm not afraid of Santa, either. Santa is a good guy. You used to be when you were little. I remember you.

CHILD: You do?

MRS. OBAMA: I remember you all. I do. He spoke not a word but went straight to his work, and filled all the stockings, then turned with a jerk. And laying his finger aside of his nose, and giving a nod, up the chimney he rose.

He sprang to his sleigh, to his team gave a whistle, and away they all flew like the down of a thistle. But I heard him exclaim as he drove out of sight -- what did he say? Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night. (Applause.)

MR. LINTOTT: Well, thank you, Mrs. Obama. What a great story. Let's give her another hand for that. That was just awesome. (Applause.) And Sunny and Bo and our helpers here -- now, I think we have some time for a few questions.

MRS. OBAMA: We do.

MR. LINTOTT: We do. Okay.

MRS. OBAMA: You field the questions, yes.

MR. LINTOTT: We've got some microphones out here. And I see one right over there with the orange blanket. Go ahead.

CHILD: Hi, Michelle. I'm Christina (ph), and I'm a big supporter. My question is, are Sunny and Bo allowed to walk around the entire White House, or just the residence?

MRS. OBAMA: They walk around everywhere. Every morning Dale, who's here -- Dale is one of the head gardeners at the White House -- he comes and picks them up. And Bo is old enough that he walks off-leash, and Sunny, we still keep her on her leash because she's still learning. But they go all over the White House. Sometimes they'll hang out in the Oval Office. They walk through the garden. They have like a job. And then they get dropped off back home at about lunchtime, and they sleep for the rest of the day.

But they are great ambassadors. I mean, everybody who comes to the White House, they're excited to see the President, maybe -- (laughter) -- but everybody wants to see Sunny and Bo.

CHILD: Thank you so much.

MRS. OBAMA: Thank you, babe.

MR. LINTOTT: Does everybody know which one is Sunny and which one is Bo?

CHILD: Sunny, Bo.

MRS. OBAMA: You got it.

MR. LINTOTT: Another question, right here.

CHILD: What do you want for Christmas?

MRS. OBAMA: What do I want for Christmas?

AUDIENCE MEMBER: What do you want for Christmas?

CHILD: A dog.

MRS. OBAMA: You want a dog?


MRS. OBAMA: Okay! (Laughter.) All right! Mom and dad, did you hear that? We got a dog, we got a kitty request. I don't really have a long wish list for Christmas, because I pretty much have everything I need. Moms and dads, we're not that big on Christmas. I just want everybody to be happy, and I want to sleep in. (Laughter.) That's what I want for Christmas. I want to sleep late. Maybe I'll get that.

MR. LINTOTT: Okay, we've got one right over there with the red shirt on.

CHILD: My name is Mario (ph.) My question is, what is your favorite winter activity?

MRS. OBAMA: Where are you? Oh, there you go.

CHILD: What is your favorite winter activity?

MRS. OBAMA: My favorite winter activity? I like to ski, actually. Has anybody ever been skiing? Yeah.

CHILD: I went skating.

MRS. OBAMA: You've been skating? I don't know how to skate that well, but I love to ski. That's one of my favorite things to do. You can't skate that well either? You skate a little? Yeah, I like to ski.

CHILD: I skate.

MRS. OBAMA: Do you skate a lot? Okay.

MR. LINTOTT: We've got one more here, right here in front.



CHILD: My name is Sophie (ph.)

MRS. OBAMA: Hey, Sophie. What's going on?

CHILD: Well, I'm very happy right now. (Laughter.)

MRS. OBAMA: So am I.

CHILD: My question is, do you have Christmas pajamas? (Laughter.)

MRS. OBAMA: Do I have Christmas pajamas? I don't. Maybe that's what I should put on my Christmas list. Okay, Mr. President, if you're watching, I think we could use some Christmas pajamas. (Laughter.) That's a good idea.

MR. LINTOTT: Great idea. One more over there. He's holding up some money.

MRS. OBAMA: You've got money there. It's fake, it's fake. Okay, I got it. It's a lot of fake money.

CHILD: It's real, it's real.

MRS. OBAMA: It's real.

CHILD: Fake, fake, fake!

MRS. OBAMA: It's real. Okay, what's your question, babe?

CHILD: Hi, Mrs. Obama. My question is, do Sunny and Bo open their own Christmas gifts?

MRS. OBAMA: No, actually they don't. (Laughter.) They don't, but they have teeth they would use, but they would eat the paper too. So we don't let them open their own gifts. We kind of help them out.

MR. LINTOTT: Okay, one last question, right here in the blue.

CHILD: Do Sunny and Bo have stockings?

MRS. OBAMA: They do. Everybody has a stocking in our house -- Grandma, Malia, Sasha, the President, me, Sunny and Bo. But we're not going to tell them what we're putting in their stockings, okay? It's a secret.

CHILD: I've been to your house.

MRS. OBAMA: Have you been to my house before? (Laughter.) You've been too? You've been too? You were there -- oh, that's right! Well, you've seen me now. Well, I hope you guys --

CHILD: (Inaudible.)

MRS. OBAMA: You were an elf too? Was that fun? That was so much fun. You guys were great elves, you really were. Well, you guys have to come and visit the White House.

MR. LINTOTT: Well, there's your invitation.

MRS. OBAMA: I've invited you. Come and visit the White House, okay?

CHILD: When? (Laughter.)

MRS. OBAMA: Whenever you have some free time, okay? You let us know.

CHILD: What time?

MRS. OBAMA: What time? Whatever time works for you. (Laughter.) Think about it. You don't have to decide now. You've got to drop your kid off? (Laughter.) Got a few things to do -- well, work it out.

MR. LINTOTT: Well, Mrs. Obama, thank you for taking the time to be with us today.

MRS. OBAMA: You guys, thank you. Thank you, guys. (Applause.) You're awesome.

Michelle Obama, Remarks by the First Lady at the Children's National Health System Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/321933

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