President, President-elect Spend Christmas in Transition

By Nitya

Dec 25, 2008 1:43pm

ABC News’ Nitya Venkataraman Reports: Following 19 pardons and one pardon revoked, the president and first lady spent their twelfth Christmas at Camp David, hosting a traditional Texas Christmas Eve dinner of enchiladas and tamales followed by a lunch on Christmas Day surrounded by the Bush family at the Maryland presidential retreat.

In addition to the president’s twin daughters and son-in-law, the First Family was joined by Bush’s parents — former President and First Lady George H.W. Bush — and siblings, and sat down to a traditional menu of roast turkey with cornbread dressing, green beans, sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes, spinach salad, giblet gravy, cranberry sauce and rolls — with pumpkin and pecan pies for dessert.

On Christmas Eve, Bush called U.S. troops stationed at various locations around the world to wish them a happy holiday and thank them for their service, said White House Press Secretary Dana Perino.

Perino said President Bush thanked the members for the "continued sacrifices that they are making in serving our country overseas, and away from family."

Five time zones away, Bush’s successor, President-elect Barack Obama, celebrated Christmas morning with his family, opening presents at their three home, $30 million beach rental in Kailua, Hawaii

The Obamas will share the day with the friends who are vacationing with them, the Whitakers and the Nesbitts, and end it with a traditional Christmas dinner at their home, that includes a traditional menu of turkey and ham.

Obama recorded a message for U.S. servicemen and women on Christmas Eve, set to air on Saturday.

"In towns and cities across America, there is an empty seat at the dinner table; in distant bases and on ships at sea, our servicemen and women can only wonder at the look on their child’s face as they open a gift back home," Obama said in the message.

Christmas in Hawaii is something of a tradition for the Obama family who has previously spent the holiday in the president-elect’s native state visiting his maternal grandmother, Madelyn Dunham, who helped raise him. Dunham died on Nov. 2, two days before her grandson’s White House win. Earlier this week, Obama attended a private memorial for his grandmother and scattered her ashes on the Hawaii coast with his half-sister, Maya Soetoro-Ng.

This Christmas, Obama’s second-in-command, Joe Biden, will attend morning Mass and continue a longtime family tradition of hosting Christmas Day for his entire family at the Biden family home in Delaware. Christmas morning Biden’s granddaughters were to reveal the name they chose for the puppy he’s taking with him in his move to Washington.

The vice president-elect and his wife spent Christmas Eve at a Wilmington soup kitchen serving meatloaf.

In an interview with a local news station outside the Emmanuel Dining Room, Biden said the soup kitchen’s long lines illustrated the need for an economic stimulus package, one he hopes the Obama-Biden administration can deliver on Inauguration Day.

Vice President Dick Cheney is spending the Christmas holiday in Jackson Hole, Wyoming with his family.

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