FILE – In this Dec. 12, 2016, file photo, first lady Michelle Obama waves as she departs after a holiday event at Children’s National Health System in Washington.
HONOLULU – For most people, a christmas Eve conversation with the first lady of the United States is an unexpected surprise. But Austin is the holding company for someone else.
“I want to hear Santa talk,” said Austin, one of a handful of children that the name of the NORAD Tracks Santa program on Saturday and found Michelle Obama on the other side of the line.
Santa could not on the phone, the first lady explained to me patiently, “because he is delivering all the gifts” — 3 million at the end of the morning in Honolulu, where President Barack Obama and his family are on vacation.
There was a bittersweet note this year as first lady made her annual Christmas ritual for the last time, taking calls from kids who wanted to know exactly how much progress Santa had made on his journey. It will be the first lady, Melania Trump, to decide next year whether to continue the tradition.
But Austin was a different concern in mind: Would Santa know where to go?
“I am planning to move to another house,” said Austin, accompanied by three other children in North Carolina.
Doesn’t matter, Mrs. Obama replied.
“He is able to find you no matter where you go,” she said, according to a transcript released by the White House. “That is the special from Santa.”
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The first lady spent about half an hour taking calls before joining her husband, daughters Sasha and Malia family and friends for lunch at the Side Street Inn, which is greasy food and low-key atmosphere is popular among Hawaii locals and tourists alike. Then the family drove to the Breakout Waikiki, a “live-action” experience, where visitors are “captured” in a room and must work together to break out.
But before the family fun, there was a geography lesson as the first lady updated the children on Santa’s most recent locale on his gift-giving journey: Sardinia, Malta and Hungary, to name a few.
If there was a lesson for the first lady, it was a crash course in the latest hot item gifts.
A girl with the name Kirsten told Mrs. Obama she wanted to take a drone from Santa. Joshua wanted a Hot Wheels garage, while Aiden wanted a hoverboard.
But it was Adilyn which the gift seemed to catch the ‘first lady’ off guard.
“I’m getting a hedgehog tomorrow,” Adilyn said.