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The White House
Office of the First Lady
For Immediate Release

Remarks by the First Lady and Ryan Seacrest at Children’s National Health System

Children’s National Health System
Washington, D.C.

12:18 P.M. EST

MRS. OBAMA:  How are you guys doing?


MRS. OBAMA:  What’s new?  Well, it’s Christmas time again.  Are we excited about Christmas time?  (Applause.)  

MR. SEACREST:  Have you all been very, very good this year?  

MR. SEACREST:  Yeah?  There’s a waver right there.  There’s a waver.

MRS. OBAMA:  What’s going on?  Well, we have a story to tell you -- a story about Christmas night and this guy named --

MR. SEACREST:  Old St. Nick.

MRS. OBAMA:  It’s about you!  

MR. SEACREST:  Santa.  About that man right there.

MRS. OBAMA:  So Ryan and I are going to read together.  You guys ready?  

‘Twas the night before Christmas when all through the house, not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse.

MR. SEACREST:  The stockings were hung by the chimney with care in hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there.  You’re busy.

SANTA:  Very busy.

MRS. OBAMA:  The children were nestled all snug in their beds while visions of sugarplums danced in their heads.  And Mama in her kerchief and I in my cap had just settled down for a long winter’s nap.

MR. SEACREST:  When out on the lawn there rose such a clatter, I sprang from my bed to see what was the matter.  

MRS. OBAMA:  Away to the window I flew like a flash, tore open the shutters and threw up the sash.  The moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow gave a luster of midday to objects below.

MR. SEACREST:  When what to my wondering eyes should appear but a miniature sleigh and eight tiny reindeer.

MRS. OBAMA:  With a little old driver so lively and quick, I knew in a moment it must be St. Nick.

MR. SEACREST:  More rapid than eagles his coursers they came, and he whistled and shouted and called them by name.  

MRS. OBAMA:  Oh, this is where the props come in.  (Laughter.)  

MR. SEACREST:  Now, Dasher!  Now, Dancer!  Now, Prancer and Vixen!  On Comet!  On Cupid -- 

SANTA:  On Donner and Blitzen.

MR. SEACREST:  There you go.  (Laughter.)

MRS. OBAMA:  Well done.  So glad you brought that.  (Laughter.)  

To the top of the porch, to the top of the wall, now dash away, dash away, dash away all.  As the dry leaves before the wild hurricane fly when they meet with an obstacle mount to the sky.  

MR. SEACREST:  So up to the housetop the coursers they flew, with a sleigh full of toys, and St. Nicholas too.

MRS. OBAMA:  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.

MR. SEACREST:  He was dressed in all fur from his head to his foot, and his clothes were all tarnished with ashes and soot.

MRS. OBAMA:  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 cherry.

MR. SEACREST:  His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow, and the beard on his chin was as white as the snow.

MRS. OBAMA:  The stump of a pipe -- I think St. Nick gave up smoking.  (Laughter.)  This was a long time back.

MR. SEACREST:  This was written way back in the day.

MRS. OBAMA:  But way back in the day.  

The stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth, and the smoke, it encircled his head like a wreath.

MR. SEACREST:  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, ho.

MRS. OBAMA:  Oh, that’s -- I love that laugh. 

MR. SEACREST:  I mean this as a compliment:  He was chubby and plump -- (laughter) -- a right jolly old elf, and I laughed when I saw him in spite of myself.

MRS. OBAMA:  A wink of his eye and a twist of his head soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread.  

MR. SEACREST:  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.

MRS. OBAMA:  He sprang to his sleigh, to his team gave a whistle, and away they all flew like the down of a thistle.

MR. SEACREST:  But I heard him exclaim as he drove out of sight:  Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night.

MRS. OBAMA:  Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night.  (Applause.)  Well done.  Well done, Ryan.  That’s good.  

MR. SEACREST:  Thank you.  Thank you.  

Q    Thank you for that, that was just absolutely wonderful.  Mrs. Obama -- 

MRS. OBAMA:  We’re not going anywhere.

Q    -- we’re so pleased and so thrilled to have you here again this year.  It’s such an honor and such a treat for all the children, for our staff, for our families and for our volunteers to have you visit every year.  You’ve truly been an inspiration for all of us who are involved here at Children’s National.

MRS. OBAMA:  Thank you.  It’s been an honor for eight years to be here with you.  

Q    And, Ryan, it’s such a great treat to have you here today too.  Starting to feel like you’re part of the family, it’s great.

MR. SEACREST:  Happy to be part of the family.

Q    We get to have you come every month.  (Applause.)  

MR. SEACREST:  Thank you.  

Q    Now I understand you might be willing to take a few questions from the kids?  

MRS. OBAMA:  Yeah.  This is a tough crowd so brace yourself, Ryan.

MR. SEACREST:  Okay, I’m ready.

Q    So with that, I’m going to turn it over to Doctor Newman, who will lead this.

MRS. OBAMA:  All right.

MR. SEACREST:  Thank you.

DR. NEWMAN:  Okay, who has a question?  Right over here. 

Q    Mrs. Obama, what did you get the President for Christmas?  

MR. SEACREST:  Oh, good question.

MRS. OBAMA:  This is always a tough one because they air this session before Christmas --

MR. SEACREST:  So don’t tell.

MRS. OBAMA:  -- and I sort of don’t want him to know.  But one thing has to do with music, and another thing has to do with sports.  Okay?  That’s all I’m going to tell you.

MR. SEACREST:  What did you get him last year?

MRS. OBAMA:  What did I get -- I think golfing clothes.  

MR. SEACREST:  Golfing clothes?

MRS. OBAMA:  There’s usually some golfing clothes in there, yeah.

MR. SEACREST:  Good question.  

MRS. OBAMA:  Yeah, very good question.

Q    All right, we have a question over here for you, Ryan.

Q    What is the best gift you ever received?

MR. SEACREST:  What’s the best gift I’ve ever received?  The gift of friendship.  

AUDIENCE:  Awww.  

MRS. OBAMA:  Awww.  


MRS. OBAMA:  But what’s the best stuff you’ve gotten?  (Laughter.)  

MR. SEACREST:  Okay, the real -- the best stuff?  I got this really cool watch the other day.  (Laughter.)  My family, honestly, is a family who loves to eat.  So we usually just get together Christmas -- we give gifts because we’re grown up now, but we just love to eat on holidays.

MRS. OBAMA:  What’s your favorite thing to eat?

MR. SEACREST:  I like fondue.

MRS. OBAMA:  Oh, I love fondue too.

MR. SEACREST:  I like fondue.  Yeah, we don’t do it often, but we do it Christmas Eve.

MRS. OBAMA:  You guys know what fondue is?  We shouldn’t talk about -- it’s melted cheese, and you stick bread and meat and fruit in it.

MR. SEACREST:  You cook your own food at the table.

MRS. OBAMA:  Yeah, yeah.  Try it.  It’s great.  (Laughter.) 

DR. NEWMAN:  We’ve got one question -- I’m looking for the -- where’s the microphone?  Raise your hand, who’s got the microphone.  Right where -- here.

Q    Okay.  Mrs. Obama, do you ever get to cook dinner in the White House kitchens?

MRS. OBAMA:  Yeah, I could.  (Laughter.)  I could.  I would be lying -- I have the freedom to do whatever I want.  Have I cooked?  No, not so much.  (Laughter.)  Stay here, Sunny.  

I like to cook, but we -- the White House has chefs, and they are much better cooks than me.  So I sort of let the people who are good at what they do do that, and then I do other things -- like come here and hang out with you.  

MR. SEACREST:  If you did cook, what’s your favorite dish to cook?

MRS. OBAMA:  My specialty is -- I’ve got this shrimp and garlic linguine with sundried tomatoes.  It’s really good.  My family was sick of it because I cooked it a lot, so my kids were like, oh, it’s the linguine pasta thing again.  (Laughter.)  But that’s my favorite dish, and it’s really, really good.  It’s really good.

DR. NEWMAN:  We have another question right there.

Q    This is for Ryan.  What did you ask for this Christmas?

MR. SEACREST:  What did I ask for this Christmas?  

MRS. OBAMA:  And don’t say peace on Earth.  (Laughter.)  

MR. SEACREST:  No, I’m not.  I’m not.  

SANTA:  I know what he asked for.  

MRS. OBAMA:  Oh right, that’s right.  You can’t tell.  Of course Santa knows.  

MR. SEACREST:  I haven’t even gotten around to asking yet.  I’m thinking about it now for the first time.  I need to learn how to play an instrument, so I’m going to ask for a guitar and I’m going to learn how to play.  I feel like I work in the music world, I should be learn how to play an instrument.  

So, Meredith, if you’re listening -- my sister is here.  

MRS. OBAMA:  Oh yeah.

MR. SEACREST:  There you go.  Tell Santa please, Mer.  

MRS. OBAMA:  All right.  But then you need lessons too.  

MR. SEACREST:  Oh yeah, and lessons, please.

DR. NEWMAN:  Another question right over here.

Q    Okay.  So this is for Ryan.  What’s your favorite holiday song?

MR. SEACREST:  Favorite holiday?

MRS. OBAMA:  Holiday song, did you --

MR. SEACREST:  Favorite holiday song?  I like -- my favorite holiday song for Christmas time is “Silent Night.”  The candlelight service, light the candle and sing that with everybody’s candle lit.  That’s my favorite holiday song.  

MRS. OBAMA:  And it has to have the candle to -- going with it?

MR. SEACREST:  Yeah, you’ve got to light the candle on that.

MRS. OBAMA:  I like “This Christmas.”  “Shake your hand, shake your hand.”  (Laughter.) 

MR. SEACREST:  Also, that Mariah Carey song is pretty good too, “All I Want For Christmas.”  

MRS. OBAMA:  Oh, yeah, that’s a good one.

MR. SEACREST:  “All I Want For Christmas.”

MRS. OBAMA:  What’s the top Christmas song?  

MR. SEACREST:  That’s the number-one song in the nation when it comes to Christmas time.  

MRS. OBAMA:  Mariah’s song?

MR. SEACREST:  Mariah’s “All I Want For Christmas.”  The biggest Christmas song on the charts.  

MRS. OBAMA:  Really?  Bigger than -- 

MR. SEACREST:  I’m going to sell it.  Yes, yes.

MRS. OBAMA:  Okay, okay.  (Laughter.)  

Q    Hi, Mrs. Obama, we have a question over here for you.

MRS. OBAMA:  Okay.

Q    Mrs. Obama -- 

DR. NEWMAN:  Last question.


DR. NEWMAN:  Well, maybe one more after this.

MRS. OBAMA:  Yeah, seems so short.  (Laughter.)  

Q    Mrs. Obama, are Sunny and Bo allowed to walk around the entire White House or just the residence?

MRS. OBAMA:  No, they walk around everywhere.  And one of the things they do is they go into the Oval if it’s hot outside -- Bo doesn’t like extreme weather, because he’s kind of furry.  So if they’re outside and it’s hot, he, like, goes up to the Oval Office and he kind of paws until they open the door, and he comes and he sits in -- he has a favorite chair by the TV in the outer office.  So he has his spots. 

So they’re all over the place.  Their favorite person in the White House is Dale, who’s the gardener.  Dale is back there.  And he hangs out with them.  So he comes and gets them in the morning -- they have a regular routine.  So, like, after they eat, about 7:30, 8:00, he comes to get them and they walk around the White House.  And they do errands with him, and they hang out with the gardeners.  Then they’ll, like, make some appearances.  

I actually have a whole request sheet just for them.  (Laughter.)  So my in my daily briefing book, you get a whole set of requests -- can Bo and Sunny take pictures with this group, and this ambassador is coming in and they made a request to see Sunny and Bo.  And I have to approve it.  (Laughter.)  So they have a full schedule.  And they got all fluffed up for you guys today.  We usually make sure they get cleaned before this visit and fluffed up.  

So they’re very busy.  They are excellent ambassadors.  They’re probably the most popular living creatures in the White House.  (Laughter.)  

DR. NEWMAN:  Right there, another question.

Q    Do Sunny and Bo unwrap their own gifts?

MRS. OBAMA:  Do they unwarp their own gifts?  No, no.  They’re bright but not that bright.  (Laughter.)  They get gifts, but they don’t unwrap them on their own, because I don’t want them to eat the paper.  So we’ll bring -- they each get a set of toys, and we’ll lay them out so that they know it’s theirs.  But they’re pretty good about not picking up stuff that they don’t have permission to pick up.  They’re really good about that.

But they get gifts every year, not to worry.  They will -- right, Santa?

MR. SEACREST:  They’ll do just fine.

MRS. OBAMA:  But let’s not discuss what they’re getting because they’re here.

DR. NEWMAN:  Here’s our last question.

MRS. OBAMA:  Okay.

Q    Do you and President Obama work together?

MRS. OBAMA:  Do we what?

Q    Work together at the White House?

MRS. OBAMA:  Yeah, we do work together.  We work together on a whole range of things.  One of the things we’ve worked together -- is not just me and the President, but the Vice President, Joe Biden, and his wife, Jill Biden -- the four of us work very hard on supporting our servicemembers and our military families.  So we do a lot of events like that together.  And it’s fun having your husband hanging around with you all day.  (Applause.) 

Great questions, guys!  

MR. SEACREST:  Good job, guys.

Q    Well, thank you all very much for being here.  And we just have to, first of all, thank Ryan Seacrest for the amazing studio he and his family put together.  (Applause.)  And we have these studios in nine or 10 other children’s hospitals, so it’s really an amazing thing.

And then, Mrs. Obama, what can we say?  We’ve just loved having you here over the last eight years.  We’re glad you’re going to stay in Washington at least two more years.  (Applause.)  And we look forward to having her back here at Children’s National.  And don’t forget, she’s a hospital executive before she became First Lady, so I can always put her to work.  (Laughter.)  I know she’s got a lot of great things to do.

So again, thank you so much for being with us here at the holiday time.

MRS. OBAMA:  Thanks so much.  (Applause.) 

12:32 P.M. EST