Michelle Obama, with Santa and the family dog Bo as an entourage, visited the Children's National Medical Center in Washington, D.C., today to read the Christmas classic "Twas the Night Before Christmas" to a crowd of children and their families, continuing a tradition that dates back more than 60 years.
"Christmas is coming," Obama said as she took her seat. "Is everyone excited?"
Throughout the poem, the first lady interjected her own commentary. As she read aloud, "He was dressed all in fur, from his head to his foot/ And his clothes were all tarnished/ with ashes and soot," she looked over at Santa and told the kids, "He cleaned up for you guys."
After story time, the children asked the first lady about Obama family traditions. She used the opportunity to remind the kids that vegetables can be a healthy holiday tradition.
"We have steak," she told the kids. "We have lots of vegetables. String beans, carrots, broccoli - that's our favorite. We have lots of vegetables that go with our food. With your dinner - having a little meat and vegetables can be a good thing."
One child exclaimed "Ewww" when Obama said the family has steak on Christmas. "Ewwwww?" she quickly replied.
The president loves pie, she added.
She told the children that her favorite Christmas movie is the Jimmy Stewart classic, "It's a Wonderful Life."
"It's an old black-and-white movie, I know," she said. "It's about a man who thinks he's not useful in the world… He wishes he weren't there and a little angel comes down and grants his wish. And he sees what would happen in the world if he wasn't there. Even though he thinks his life isn't significant, he sees that the whole town falls apart. And then he wakes up and realizes that he's got a wonderful life. My favorite story."
The first lady said she has not had a moment to tell Santa what she wants for Christmas, so she told him as he sat next to her.
"I really want all kids to grow up with the chance for a good life and to be healthy," she said.