Former first granddaughter and daughter Jenna Bush spent scores of Christmases at the White House while her grandfather and father were President.
Jenna Bush was more than qualified to sit down with Michelle Obama to compare notes about the holidays at America’s most famous address.
During the interview, aired this morning on Today, Jenna Bush recounted treasured memories including helping her grandmother, Barbara Bush, put the star on the tree when she was a child.
Meanwhile, Michelle Obama said the smells and sounds of the White House and opening it up to the public were the most magical things of the festive season.
“It’s the most special time to be in the White House,” Michelle Obama said.
“It is the one time of the year when the White House really opens up. We have thousands and thousands of visitors streaming through each day.
“Everything looks great. The smells are magnificent. I feel very blessed to be able to be here during these times.”
Michelle Obama said her daughters, Sasha and Malia, equally loved the holidays but were less involved now they’re getting older.
“We have a teen and a pre-teen so there is less involvement from them because their lives are so full,” she said.
“But they do still enjoy every second of the holidays.”
Jenna Bush added that her and her sister Barbara’s favorite part was “the cookies”.
One member of the Obama family who will never grow out of Christmas is Bo – the family’s Portuguese water dog.
“We always find a way to incorporate Bo in our Christmas themes,” Michelle Obama said, agreeing that he was the family’s muse.
“He is the most popular member of the family,” she said.
“The President is clear on that. There are times when people recognize Bo and don’t even see him.”
When it comes to the Christmas meal, Michelle Obama, who refers to herself as “hostess-in-chief”, likes to serve up traditional fare, adding that it’s a time when diets go out the window.
“(The meal is) very traditional. There’s turkey, there’s string beans and stuffing, a little mac and cheese,” she said.
“Everybody deserves their mac and cheese.”
The family actually spends Christmas day in Hawaii, where President Barack Obama was born and went to high school.
“We go out there, and we spend time with friends and family,” she said.
“That tends to be our gift to each other, the president and I. We don’t exchange gifts. We say: <<We’re in Hawaii. Merry Christmas>>.”
Asked by Jenna Bush whether the First Family was looking forward to a relaxing vacation more than ever this year, Michelle Obama said yes, but that the family was prepared for anything.
“We are going to see,” she said.
“This job never stops. It’s a wonderful privilege. It’s a blessing. We’re so glad to be here for four more years.
“But you don’t have control over where the wind blows.”
However, one thing was certain.
“Whatever happens, we’ll be together. It really is just a time to be together and be thankful.”
During the slot on Today, Jenna Bush recounted a few more of her favorite memories from Christmas at the White House with presenter Susannah Guthrie.
“Reading with my sweet grandpa the night before Christmas, that was a tradition,” she said.
Jenna Bush agreed with Michelle Obama that the music and the festive scents wafting through the halls made the residence a magical place to be during the holidays, and she thanked the “amazing people” who put it all together.
“I have such precious memories… and it was really lovely being back,” she said.