First lady Michelle Obama is pictured while talking to children who called… (Pete Souza / White House )
Reporting from Honolulu —
The Obama family settled into their Hawaiian vacation this weekend, with the president making a late arrival thanks to the kerfuffle back in Washington over the payroll tax cut renewal.
President Obama spent part of Christmas Eve playing golf with old friends from the islands and White House staff, while the first lady spoke with children who had called into NORAD’s special Santa-tracking phone line.
The White House released a transcript of the conversations, which show a first lady in classic Christmas story-telling mode.
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"Can you tell me where Santa is?" a girl named Summer asked.
The first lady, with access to NORAD's state-of-the-art surveillance data, replied that Santa at that very moment was "over Finland."
"I can see a glowing light," she said, "and it looks like, from the satellite, that he's got all nine reindeer with him and it looks like his sleigh is pretty full. It looks like a full sleigh of toys. So I hope you’ve been good this year."
As the calls continued, the story got a bit more elaborate.
"Let me take a look at the satellite tracker. I'm here with all of the experts; they've got all this special equipment. Wait a second, I see a flashing light -- I see one, and it looks like -- yep, yep, the light is Santa. They're closing in on it, and they see his sleigh. There are nine reindeer pulling it, and it looks like it's full of toys. He's over the country of Lithuania right now. Wow, he's all the way in Lithuania. But he's moving pretty fast -- lightning speed. But this super-special equipment here can track him at any speed; they can track missiles and satellites, and they can track Santa as well.''
Mrs. Obama reminded the children that Santa only arrives at their homes after they’ve fallen asleep – a message that parents everywhere no doubt appreciated.
The children dutifully reported that they’d been good all year, telling the first lady of how they’d cleaned their rooms and helped their parents.
A seven-year-old named Samantha told the first lady that she had once gotten a look at Santa.
"Once, when I was downstairs, I ran up the stairs and then I turned on the light and I saw Santa," Samantha said.
"Did you see Santa? What did Santa say when you saw him?" the first lady asked.
"He said, 'Merry Christmas,' and put me to bed."
Asked by one caller what she wanted for Christmas, Mrs. Obama said: "I have what I wanted for Christmas: the president is here with us and we’re all together as a family. I think we were all praying and praying, and asking Santa and the Tooth Fairy and every fairy that they could think of – that's what Malia and Sasha were doing – that he would be able to be with us on Christmas."