Michelle Obama: What's she doing to get ready for Christmas?

Calling herself the 'hostess-in-chief,' first lady Michelle Obama puts a positive spin on preparations for the annual Christmas deluge of visitors to a decked out White House.

Alex Brandon/AP
President Obama, first lady Michelle Obama, Sasha, second from left, and Malia, sing during the 90th annual National Christmas Tree Lighting ceremony on the Ellipse south of the White House, Thursday, Dec. 6, in Washington.

What’s first lady Michelle Obama doing to get ready for Christmas?

After all, during holiday receptions more than 90,000 people tromp through the White House to look at the decorations, munch cookies, and listen to the Marine Band. That puts the impending visit of your Schenectady cousins in perspective, doesn’t it? Suddenly three preteens, two accountants, and one aging beagle doesn’t sound like too heavy a load.

Anyway, Mrs. Obama dished about her holiday workload to former first daughter Jenna Bush Hager on Wednesday’s "Today Show". She described herself as “hostess-in-chief.”

“I love that it is the one time of the year when we really open up the White House. We have thousands and thousands of visitors just streaming through every day,” said FLOTUS. “It’s beautiful, it looks great, the smells are magnificent.”

She and Mrs. Hager went on to have a nice chat about how magical it is to live in a (taxpayer-subsidized) mansion during the holidays. It was all in preparation for a “A White House Christmas: First Families Remember” special running Thursday at 8 p.m. on NBC. Several comments jumped out to us:

FIRST DOGS RULE

“Bo is the most popular member of our family,” said Mrs. Obama. What she didn’t add was that the Obama’s Portuguese Water Dog is also a star of this year’s White House decorations. In the East Room, a life-size Bo replica is the centerpiece, and handmade “Boflakes” hang from the trees, according to a tour book prepared for visitors.

Bo’s also the leading canine of “Bo Ho Ho”, a one-minute video of 2012 White House holiday preparations. We must say that in our judgment he’s a bit stiff as an actor. He’s no BarneyGeorge W. Bush’s Scottish terrier, whose “Barney Cam VII: A Red White and Blue Christmas” would have won an Oscar for Best Dog-Based Political Infomerical, if that was an Academy Award category.

NO PRESENT FOR POTUS

That’s what his wife said, anyway. “The president and I, we don’t exchange gifts. We say, we’re in Hawaii, Merry Christmas,” the first lady told the ex-first daughter.

She’s referring there to their annual holiday trip to Hawaii, which occurs after all the tours are done and their official host and hostess responsibilities are over.

Will the Obamas get to go on this trip if negotiations over the “fiscal cliff” remain unresolved? We can’t answer that – the White House won’t say. But according to Politico, federal authorities are already setting up security air and sea no-go spaces in preparation for a POTUS Hawaiian visit.

“The key air restriction surrounds Koko Head on the southeastern side of Oahu, near where Obama has vacationed in the past,” writes Politico’s Josh Gerstein.

MICHELLE OBAMA’S SECRET TALENT

When they’re in Hawaii they like to do “crazy stuff,” said Mrs. Obama. For one thing they have a family talent show.

“Everyone has to participate, the moms and dads, whether it’s singing or reading a poem. The kids will construct a play of some sort,” said FLOTUS.

She added that she did not know what she would do in the show, but even if she did, she would not disclose it to the public. That information is classified “embarrassing,” apparently.

We know – she could pretend to address an empty chair! Or she could do Joe Biden impressions. Just putting ideas out there.

As a final note, this year’s White House holiday theme is “Joy to all.” Fifty-four trees in the executive mansion are decorated to reflect this theme in some manner. The tradition of naming a theme began with Jacqueline Kennedy, who as first lady designated a Nutcracker theme one year for her daughter Caroline.

And the first first lady to have a White House Christmas tree at all? That would have been Caroline Harrison, wife of Benjamin Harrison, who was also the first first lady to use electricity.

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to CSMonitor.com.