WASHINGTON - Young patients at the Children's National Medical Center were entertained today with Christmas festivities, including a visit from Santa Claus and a story reading from first lady Michelle Obama. The first family's dog, Bo, also came, much to the delight of the children.
Balancing a slightly-too-large pooch on her lap, the first lady read "A Visit from St. Nicholas," interjecting her own jokes and commentary as she went.
"Do you know the names of the reindeer?" she asked her audience. "'Now, Dasher! now, Dancer! now, Prancer and Vixen! On, Comet! on Cupid! On, Donner and Blitzen!' You see, Bo?" she said, gesturing to a picture of the sled.
"As I drew in my head and was turning around, down the chimney St. Nicholas came with a bound," she continued from the book. "Why do you think it was a 'bound?' Because St. Nick is a little hefty! Jolly, exactly."
Michelle Obama's visit to the hospital continues a tradition for first ladies dating to the years of Bess Truman. Her visit coincided with an appearance at a charity concert benefiting the hospital earlier this week.
After the reading, she took a few questions from the children in the audience.
The first lady reported there were 12 chimneys in the White House and the Secret Service has cleared Santa for entrance. But she was tight-lipped when asked what she was getting President Obama for the holiday, citing the press in the back of the room.
"Well, I can't tell," she replied. "Look, they're going to print it in the papers tomorrow. What do you think I should get him? Give me some ideas."
One child suggested a new iPad Mini, after learning the president already owns the full-sized version of the tablet computer.
The first lady made no mention of the shooting deaths at an elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut today; her appearance came mere moments before her husband addressed the nation regarding the attack.