Category Archives: Holidays

5, 4, 3, 2, 1… The Obama Family Lights The National Christmas Tree

Posted by: Audiegrl
Written by Kori Schulman

President Barack Obama, with mother-in-law Marian Robinson, daughters Sasha and Malia, and First Lady Michelle Obama, react as they push the button to light the National Christmas Tree during a ceremony on the Ellipse in Washington, D.C., Dec. 9, 2010. (Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy)

Ed. Note: Watch the full National Christmas Tree Lighting ceremony and show with musical performances by B.B. King, Sara Bareilles, Common, Maroon 5 and more at www.thenationaltree.org.

Last night, the First Family continued a proud holiday tradition – lighting the National Christmas Tree for the 88th time. View photos from the event and watch a video of the President’s remarks, the tree lighting ceremony, and a reading of “Twas the Night Before Christmas” by the First Lady.

President Barack Obama addresses the crowd as he and the First Family attend the National Christmas Tree Lighting ceremony on the Ellipse in Washington, D.C., Dec. 9, 2010. (Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy)

President Barack Obama and First Family listen to the program at the National Christmas Tree Lighting ceremony on the Ellipse in Washington, D.C., Dec. 9, 2010. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

BB King performs Merry Christmas Baby at the National Christmas Tree Lighting ceremony on the Ellipse in Washington, D.C., Dec. 9, 2010. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

The National Christmas Tree shines bright during the lighting ceremony on the Ellipse in Washington, Dec. 9, 2010. (Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson)

“Snow or shine, in good times and in periods of hardship, folks like you have gathered with Presidents to light our national tree,” said President Obama, “Now, it hasn’t always gone off without a hitch. On one occasion, two sheep left the safety of the Nativity scene and wandered into rush-hour traffic. That caused some commotion.”

He continued, touching on the history of the ceremony and taking a moment to honor the men and women that are serving in uniform overseas this holiday season:

Often, the ceremony itself has reflected the pain and sacrifice of the times. There were years during the Second World War when no lights were hung, in order to save electricity. In the days following Pearl Harbor, Winston Churchill joined President Roosevelt to wish our nation a Happy Christmas even in such perilous days.

But without fail, each year, we have gathered here. Each year we’ve come together to celebrate a story that has endured for two millennia. It’s a story that’s dear to Michelle and me as Christians, but it’s a message that’s universal: A child was born far from home to spread a simple message of love and redemption to every human being around the world.

It’s a message that says no matter who we are or where we are from, no matter the pain we endure or the wrongs we face, we are called to love one another as brothers and as sisters.

And so during a time in which we try our hardest to live with a spirit of charity and goodwill, we remember our brothers and sisters who have lost a job or are struggling to make ends meet. We pray for the men and women in uniform serving in Afghanistan and Iraq and in faraway places who can’t be home this holiday season. And we thank their families, who will mark this Christmas with an empty seat at the dinner table.

On behalf of Malia, Sasha, Michelle, Marian — who’s our grandmother-in-chief — (laughter) -– and Bo — don’t forget Bo — (applause) — I wish all of you a merry Christmas and a blessed holiday season.

And now I’m going to invite the entire Obama crew up here to help me light this Christmas tree. (Applause.)

All right, everybody, we’re going to count from five — five, four, three, two, one.

(The tree is lit.) (Applause.)

Merry Christmas, everybody!

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First Lady Michelle Obama at the Holiday Preview: “It’s the People’s House

Posted by: Audiegrl

Written by Jordan Harp

First Lady Michelle Obama kicked off the holiday season by welcoming military families who organize a local branch of the Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots drive to the White House. “The idea behind this year’s theme,” Mrs. Obama said, “is Simple Gifts, because in the end, the greatest blessings of all are the ones that don’t cost a thing — the time that we spend with our loved ones, the freedoms we enjoy as Americans, and the joy we feel from reaching out to those in need.”

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In her remarks, the First Lady discussed the importance of opening the doors of the White House during the holiday season and thanked the nearly 100 volunteers from across the country that made it all possible:

In many ways, this is really what the White House is all about.  And I say this all the time. It’s the “People’s House.”  It’s a place that is steeped in history, but it’s also a place where everyone should feel welcome.  And that’s why my husband and I have made it our mission to open up the house to as many people as we can, especially during the holiday seasons.

So it goes without saying that when you look around, that our family never could have done all of this wonderful decorating on our own.  In fact, we only did a little bit of it. That’s why over the last few days nearly 100 volunteers from all over the country have been working so hard.  They’ve been making all the ornaments that — many of them that you’ve seen.  They’ve been hanging the lights and transforming these rooms into breathtaking works of art.  And I have to say the house looks more beautiful than it did last year.  It is really something special.

First Lady Michelle Obama talks with a boy during a craft demonstration in the State Dining Room of the White House, Dec. 1, 2010. The First Lady visited three creative stations where children of military personnel worked on holiday projects. (Official White House Photo by Samantha Appleton)

Thanking the military families in attendance for their sacrifice and service, the First Lady introduced the President and CEO of “Toys for Tots,” Lieutenant General Pete Osman. Lieutenant General Osman shared a touching story about a family impacted by Toys for Tots:

A couple of years back, there was a wonderful family in D.C. — Mom, Dad, five kids.  Happy family.  And unfortunately, tragedy struck.  The father took ill and quickly passed away.  The mom, who had been a stay-at-home mom, all of a sudden found herself having to find a job while still raising her five children.  She realized she was going to have to make some tough choices, and she did.  I mean, she had a house payment to make, utilities, food to buy, clothing and all that, and she said, “We’re going to have to cut Christmas this year.”

First Lady Michelle Obama shows off a card during a craft demonstration in the State Dining Room of the White House, Dec. 1, 2010. The First Lady visited three creative stations where children of military personnel worked on holiday projects. (Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson)

Now, she had to make this decision early on, probably in the October time frame.  And she was comfortable with it.  But as Christmas drew nearer and nearer, she became very concerned.  In fact, on Christmas Eve, she was distraught.  She was beside herself with the thought on Christmas morning her children were going to come downstairs and there weren’t going to be any gifts under that little Charlie Brown Christmas tree that they had.

Fortunately, the knock at the door came, and standing there were two Marines, a couple of volunteers, and a bunch of boxes full of toys.  So needless to say, for the Johnsons the next morning, they had a wonderful Christmas.

But that’s not the end of the story.  Interesting thing was one of the toys was a big old red fire truck.  And one of her sons really took a liking to that fire truck.  That became his favorite toy that day and for the rest of the next year and actually to years after that.  And as you would have it, that fire truck had an impact. Today, that man is one of D.C.’s finest.  He’s a firefighter with the D.C. Fire Department.

So if you don’t think that toy makes a difference, just remember this story.  And the great thing is, is there are thousands of stories just like that out there.

To find out ways to get involved, visit the Toys for Tots website.

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Remarks by the First Lady at Holiday Press Preview

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First Lady Michele Obama Receives the White House Christmas Tree

Posted by: Audiegrl

First Lady Michelle Obama and her daughters Sasha and Malia are joined by Chris Botek and his wife Brandi as the First Family receives the White House Christmas Tree for 2010, on November 26, 2010 at the White House in Washington, DC. The 18 1/2 foot Douglas fir tree comes from Chris Botek’s tree farm in Lehighton, PA.

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First Family Helps Families At Food Pantry

Posted by: Audiegrl

President Barack Obama packs and gives bags of food to area residents, with the help of his daughters Sasha and Malia, and first lady Michelle Obama, and first grandmother Marion Robinson, ahead of the Thanksgiving Day holiday at Martha’s Table on November 24, 2010 in Washington, DC. The Obama family delivered turkeys and bags of food to needy families at Martha’s Table, a 30-year-old non-profit that helps poor children, youth and families with food and clothing.

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President Obama Pardons Thanksgiving Turkey

Posted by: Audiegrl

President Barack Obama talks with daughters Sasha and Malia in the Oval Office before pardoning a turkey named Apple in the Rose Garden, Nov. 24, 2010. President Obama also pardoned Cider, Apple’s alternate. After the event, Apple and Cider will be taken to a new residence at George Washington’s Mount Vernon Estate and Gardens.

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A Veterans Day Message from First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden

Posted by: Audiegrl
Written by Dr. Jill Biden


On the eve of Veteran’s Day, I wanted to write today with a simple message to our nation’s veterans: thank you. Over the past two years, I have joined with our First Lady to explore the issues faced by our service members and their families – while they are deployed and once they return home. In my work and travels, I am always inspired by the commitment of our military service members and truly grateful for all they do for our country. This Administration is working hard to care for our service members and veterans – making historic investments in health, family support, education, and economic opportunity for our veterans – but there is a role for every one of us in showing support.

The First Lady and I recently taped the following public service announcement together to honor our Veterans on November 11, 2010 and encourage you to visit Veterans.com and Serve.gov. On Veteran’s Day and every day, it’s our sacred duty to honor the service of those who sacrifice for our country – and we all can play a role. Through groups like MissionServe and opportunities at www.Serve.gov, Americans can find a way to help in their own communities. Please join me in this effort.

Thanks,
Jill

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Trick-or-Treat with the President and First Lady

Posted by: Audiegrl

Carved pumpkins depicting President Barack Obama, Abraham Lincoln, and the White House sit on a stone wall next door to where the President was attending a dinner reception in Providence, Rhode Island, Oct. 25, 2010. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

First Lady Michelle Obama and U.S. President Barack Obama greet trick or treaters and their parents at the White House October 31, 2010 in Washington, DC. The Obama’s greeted children and military families at the North Portico to celebrate Halloween and to trick or treat across the North Lawn.

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President Barack Obama hugs a trick or treater at the White House October 31, 2010 in Washington, DC. The Obama's greeted children and military families at the North Portico to celebrate Halloween and to trick or treat across the North Lawn. (Photo by Brendan Smialowski/Getty Images North America)


An American Tradition: UNICEF’s Trick or Treat is Young at 60

Written by Ambassador Susan Rice

When I was growing up, I carried two things with me on Halloween: a bag for candy and my UNICEF box. This was true from the moment of my very first Trick-or-Treat. In the late 1960s and ’70s, Washington, DC felt a world away from the battle-scarred towns of post-World War II Europe, and from the villages of the developing world that were suffering from food insecurity and infectious disease.

But thanks to the U.S. Fund for UNICEF’s “Trick-or-Treat” campaign and my bright orange box full of jangling coins, I knew that I had the power to make a difference. I knew I could help give other young kids access to safe water if they were thirsty, medicines if they were in danger of getting sick, and textbooks even if they lacked access to a good school. Still today, the backs of UNICEF’s orange boxes translate kids’ efforts into real outcomes: seven cents gets 50 kids safe water for a day. Nineteen dollars gets three mosquito nets and some much-needed protection against malaria. More than $160 million has been collected for UNICEF on Halloween.

The U.S. Fund’s Halloween campaign was my first exposure to the United Nations. Ever since my childhood, I’ve been passionate about UNICEF and its efforts. I am proud today to release an official statement congratulating the U.S. Fund for UNICEF on the 60th anniversary of its Halloween collections. And I’m proud to add my voice to a chorus of support that has included Presidents Kennedy and Johnson, First Ladies Ford, Reagan and Bush, Mighty Mouse, the New Kids on the Block, and Spiderman. I wish UNICEF the best with its Halloween collections this year, and I wish all children, including my own, a safe and happy Halloween.

Ambassador Susan Rice is the U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations

Link to 44-D’s Halloween Special of 2009

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