Entries in First Family (4)


Obama (Finally) Starts His Vacation

Official White House Photo by Pete Souza(HONOLULU, Hawaii) -- After a lightning-fast 8-hour, 55-minute non-stop from Washington, D.C., to Honolulu on Air Force One, President Obama landed in paradise and wasted no time starting his vacation.

His vacation was delayed for six days while he wrestled with Congress over the extension of the payroll tax cut.

The delay must have made the vacationer-in-chief hungry because he spent less than half an hour at his fancy rental home on Kailua Beach, before rounding up family and friends and making a beeline for Morimoto’s Japanese fusion restaurant on Waikiki Beach. Morimoto is run by author and TV-celeb Chef Masaharu Morimoto, of Iron Chef and Iron Chef America fame.

What’s next for Obama? Officially, he’ll get his regular morning briefings, but the White House is mum on the rest of the schedule.

The usual can be expected: beach time, golf, outings for shaved ice and quality time with the first lady and his daughters.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Hanukkah at the White House

MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Celebrating Hanukkah at the White House Thursday night, President Obama said the holiday is one that celebrates “faith over doubt” and reminds us that “miracles come in all shapes and sizes.”

“This Hanukkah season, we remember a story so powerful that we all know it by heart -- even us Gentiles,” the president said with the first lady, Vice President Joe Biden and Dr. Jill Biden at his side.

“It’s a story of right over might, of faith over doubt, of a band of believers who rose up and freed their people and discovered that the oil left in their desecrated temple -- which should have lasted only one night -- ended up lasting eight,” he said. “It’s a timeless story. And for 2,000 years, it has given hope to Jews everywhere who are struggling. And today, it reminds us that miracles come in all shapes and sizes.”

The president said Hanukkah is also a time to be grateful for friendships, with each other and between nations.

“And that includes, of course, our unshakeable support and commitment to the security of the nation of Israel,” he said.

Thursday night’s celebration comes a bit early: Hanukkah begins at sunset on Dec. 20.

“We’re jumping the gun just a little bit,” Obama joked. “The way I see it, we’re just extending the holiday spirit. We’re stretching it out. But we do have to be careful that your kids don’t start thinking Hanukkah lasts 20 nights instead of eight. That will cause some problems.”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


First Family Lights the National Christmas Tree

MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Continuing an 89-year-old tradition, President Obama lit the National Christmas Tree Thursday evening, saying, “We gather here not simply to light the decorations but to honor a story that lights the world.”

The president, who rarely speaks publicly about his faith, reflected on the meaning of Christ’s birth. “He was a manifestation of God’s love for us …  and taught us a message as simple as it is powerful: We should love God and love our neighbor as ourselves. That teaching has come to encircle the globe and has endured for generations. And today it lies at the heart of my Christian faith and that of millions of Americans.”

The president urged the nation to act on that message this holiday season by helping those who need it most, “the homeless, the hungry, the sick and shut in.”

“This holiday season lets us reaffirm our commitment to each other as family members, as neighbors, as Americans. Regardless of our color, creed or faith, let us remember that we are one,” he said.

Then it was down to business. With his wife, two daughters and first grandmother, Marian Robinson, by his side, the president lit the new, significantly smaller National Christmas Tree. “That’s a good-looking tree,” Obama said.

The 40-foot-tall Colorado blue spruce that had served as the national tree for 32 years was snapped in half by strong winds in February. It was replaced by the current 26-foot-tall tree from New Jersey.

“This is the new tree. I know it’s not quite as big as the old tree. It’s going to take time to grow, but we are going to fill it up with spirit and start a new tradition right now,” the president said.

The tradition to have a national tree began in 1923, when President Calvin Coolidge lit 2,500 electric bulbs on a 48-foot balsam fir on Christmas Eve. Since then, the tree-lighting has grown significantly as an event. Thursday night’s celebration included performances by tween heartthrobs Big Time Rush -- who gave a special shout-out to Sasha and Malia -- country star Rodney Atkins and Ellie Goulding.

The event also included special appearances by Kermit the Frog, who read a spirited rendition of Twas the Night Before Christmas with the first lady, and, of course, Santa himself.

At the end of the event, the first family joined the performers onstage. The president and Santa, arguably the two most powerful men in the world, stood side by side as everyone sang Walking in a Winter Wonderland. Kermit sang along too, from his perch atop the first lady’s shoulder.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


First Family Stuffs Sacks at D.C. Food Bank

ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- The first family stuffed food sacks at the Capital Area Food Bank in northeast Washington Wednesday afternoon, fulfilling an annual pre-Thanksgiving tradition of performing an act of community service.

The Obamas stood side by side along an assembly line of workers in the food bank warehouse, stuffing reusable grocery sacks with various food items as volunteers filed by. The packages were later bound for delivery to needy children and older Americans.

The president greeted volunteers with a “Happy Thanksgiving” as he handed out packages of baby carrots. While the first lady deposited bundles of grapes, older daughter Malia doled out sweet potatoes and Sasha dished boxes of White House branded M&Ms.

About 100 of the packages were bound for in-person delivery, while the remainder were to be delivered by local social service agencies, the White House said.

The Obamas were joined by 50 members of their extended family and players from the Oregon State basketball team, but the White House did not immediately identify who was in attendance. Michelle Obama’s brother, Craig, is the head basketball coach for Oregon State.

As part of the community service excursion, the Obamas also donated two fully dressed turkeys from Jaindl’s Turkey Farm of Lehigh, Pa., as well as a stash of White House M&Ms and other foodstuffs collected during an East Wing food drive.

The food bank is the largest nonprofit hunger and nutrition education resource in the Washington Metropolitan area, distributing nearly 30 million pounds of food a year, per the White House.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio