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Christmas for the Obamas: Work out first, open gifts later

By Anne E. Kornblut
HONOLULU -- The first family is celebrating Christmas here Friday, but with their own twists.

President Obama and his wife left their vacation home and went to the gym at 6:40 a.m. on Christmas morning -- a feat unimaginable to most parents of young children eager to open presents -- and returned more than an hour later.

The first couple did not swap presents, aides said. And the family did not attend church.

Later on, the children -- along with Obama's sister, Maya Soetero-Ng, her husband, Konrad Ng, and their children -- will open gifts. A meal of roast beef and potatoes will follow, aides said.

Michelle Obama told patients and staff at Washington Hospital Center this week that Sasha and Malia Obama had gotten their father something related to sports, but refused to say more for fear of spoiling the surprise. Sasha chimed in: "It's something he likes!"

By Anne E. Kornblut  |  December 25, 2009; 3:20 PM ET
Categories:  44 The Obama Presidency , Cast of Characters  
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Comments

And to "PittAlum" -- besides the fact that your grammar and spelling make me wonder what your GPA was (or if you really ARE an alum), you have your facts wrong: the Obamas chose to use the chapel at Camp David as their primary place of worship (which welcomes several hundred local residents each Sunday morning), rather than create a hubbub at a D.C. area church by worshiping there regularly. This was reported some time ago in the mainstream press. Too bad you were so busy making up nonsense to have monitored the facts. And -- this is NOT a "Christian nation": our founding fathers (plural -- not singular, so the apostrophe in your text should have followed the s, not preceded it) asked for guidance from God but DID NOT ESTABLISH A NATIONAL RELIGION. Some of them were Christian, and some of them were Deist (look it up if you don't know what it means), but they all recognized that the first settlers had arrived here seeking freedom from religious persecution, which is why there IS NO "Church of America" as there is a Church of England. We ALL have equal rights to -- and from -- religion in the United States. We are a PLURALISTIC nation in a religious sense -- not a Christian nation. You need to take your high school U.S. history class over again. Clearly you flunked.

Posted by: marcywrite | December 28, 2009 12:42 PM | Report abuse

Talk about phonies...the ID "Voted4Hill" tells you all you need to know about that blogger's criticism. S/he still hasn't gotten over the fact that his/her candidate RAN A LOUSY CAMPAIGN AND LOST TO A BETTER CANDIDATE...who had the brains and the grace to appoint Hillary as Sec of State -- a job she's far better suited for anyway.

If it weren't so desperately hateful, I'd laugh at all of these attempts to find fault. Next we'll have news reports about public criticism of the brand of shoes the Obamas wear when exercising -- that's how ludicrous all of this criticism is.

Posted by: marcywrite | December 28, 2009 12:34 PM | Report abuse

I normally do not post to any blog or board. But this time I must make an exception. The angle I see most people using here is making the children wait. I have to ask the question. How many of the readers here workout at all. The fact that this couple works out at 6:40am together on any day is a great example of dedication to their health. When returning an hour and half later..roughly 8:00am. I feel that is a good time to open presents and start the day. Second point. Most people who attend church for christmas attend on the Sunday before or on the eve of christmas. I have never been to church on christmas day. Third point. Every President takes holidays and this president should not be an exception. Fourth point. This President inherited the economy, the wars and the terrorism. he did not create any of these issues, but is working diligently to resolve them. For an upbeat article the response is disappointing.

Posted by: darrion84 | December 28, 2009 10:42 AM | Report abuse

Maybe Obama should have spent Christmas in Detroit with the 20% unemployed instead of the rest of the fat cat Wall Street and health care CEO's in Hawaii playing golf. This is one sick country.

Forget religion, this president is as
out of touch as his previous 4 predecessors.

Posted by: wesatch | December 25, 2009 10:29 PM
??????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????

Perhaps you should have spent time in Detroit yourself gaining some humility. How stupid you must be. Maybe George Bush should have had a room in the inn in Detroit considering a lot of the unemployed have probably been unemployed for more than the 11 months President Obama has been in office.

Posted by: catmomtx | December 26, 2009 10:49 PM | Report abuse

Posted by: jemvbcarmagh06 | December 26, 2009 2:38 PM Like many Americans, I am not a religious fanatic, but like Christians around the world, I celebrate the birth of Jesus. Jews celebrate Hanukkah, and some like Muslims, Jehovah's, Atheists and Hindu's do not celebrate Christmas. If Mr. Obama is the Christian he claims to be, then don't you find it a bit unusual that he did not attend any church service on Christams day?

!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
I don't find it unusual at all. What I do find unusual is people trying to make something out of what is none of their business in the first place. Ever heard of separation from church and state? Why is it anyone's business whether or not the Obamas attended church? Who really knows how they expressed their faith on Christmas day. Even if they did attend church and it was made public some of you same people on here whining and moaning would have something negative to say.

And, what nerve of you people to get on here and decide how and when the Obamas and their girls celebrate Christmas. Who tells you what you should do and how to do it. Some of you people really need to get a life rather than trying to make something out of nothing.

Posted by: catmomtx | December 26, 2009 10:44 PM | Report abuse

I am surprised that people are jumping to the conclusion that because they did not go to church they are Muslim. I am Christian from a long line of Christians and we never went to church on Christmas day. We always went on Christmas eve. Several years when we had family illness, bad weather, or other extenuating circumstances, we sang carols and read the gospel at home. Furthermore, we had to wait for our grandparents to come to open our presents.

These Obama girls are well grounded and well loved. My impression is that the Obamas want to keep the focus on what is most important. The did visit Marines in the morning also, something that would be hard to find fault with (although someone will).

Let the family have a nice vacation with their little girls so he can return a little refreshed. You can bet he is working while there, though.

Posted by: moss1 | December 26, 2009 10:40 PM | Report abuse

As a parent for over 20 years, I cannot in my wildest dreams imagine doing anything for myself on Christmas morning, making my children wait for the big day. This is one part of Christmas, to be sure, and not the reason for the season. But the whole notion of children being put on the back burner while mummy and daddy tend to their physical beings on Christmas morning says so much more about the shallow Obamas than even their phony problems with church. They only went to Rev Wright's church because it was politically the right move for black movers and shakers. God had little to do with it.

Obama is a phony, and so is his wife.

I hope they have a lovely holiday while Americans struggle to find a job, a Muslim terrorist attempts to take down a plane, and war wages on several fronts. Far be it from our royal family to defer their gratification. These people are disgusting. Yes, a year flying to all corners of the earth must have left them wanting for another 4,000 mile trip.

Posted by: Voted4Hill | December 26, 2009 3:35 PM | Report abuse

Just opening a box has nothing to do with Christmas; that's about the commercial aspect of the holiday. Two different things.

The children had to wait for their gifts? So what? Christmas is about love and reliving the story surrounding the birth of Christ. They are surrounded by love and family. The rest are not essentials.

Third, in the days of slavery... parents had to get up at 4 AM to give treats to their children so as make sure that by 6 AM, they were on the plantation, ready for work.

We are light years away from that. Malia and Sasha are a part of a great family, they have absolutely nothing to be 'cranky' about. Should they be reminded of their ancestors they would be absolutely pleased with how much they have become a part of history.

To the Obamas "Happy Boxing Day" and all that represents the word 'relaxation.' Its deserved! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mTo1uZJ9-6c

Posted by: Victoria5 | December 26, 2009 3:14 PM | Report abuse

Obama's children seem very grounded, alive and enjoying life. Amazing some readers here take issue with how these children are raised.

The religion comments about a "Christian Nation" are equally amazing and equally absurd.

The President is back on his home turf getting a well needed respite from crazy Washington. Hawaii will do him well. Assuring to know the President is clear about his priorities for rejuvenation and relaxation.

Posted by: 2stepbay | December 26, 2009 2:47 PM | Report abuse

Like many Americans, I am not a religious fanatic, but like Christians around the world, I celebrate the birth of Jesus. Jews celebrate Hanukkah, and some like Muslims, Jehovah's, Atheists and Hindu's do not celebrate Christmas. If Mr. Obama is the Christian he claims to be, then don't you find it a bit unusual that he did not attend any church service on Christams day? And, isn't it more unusual that he has not attended any church since severing his relationship with Rev. Wright? Can someone answer this? It seems that he is saying to everyone, that since I am the president, I can no longer attend a radical church that preaches anti-American vitriol, so I will attend none.

Posted by: jemvbcarmagh06 | December 26, 2009 2:38 PM | Report abuse

I do not understand how they could make their children wait to open their presents. It sounds kind of cold hearted to me, especially for the younger daughter.

I guess they are standing by their beliefs,children are a secondary consideration and they will not stand in the way.

Posted by: kat57 | December 26, 2009 11:39 AM | Report abuse

HeyCat is right. Many of the framers of both the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution were deists, not evangelistic Christians. And just where in either the Declaration or the Constitution is it specifically stated that the US is a Christian nation? If it were so stated, then we would have the devil´s own time defining Christian (which branch, denomination, etc.). I use the term "devil´s own time" because the devil just loves Christians to fight over specifications. As it is, I much prefer a President who doesn´t pretend to be a churchgoer than one who acts like the sanctimonious pharisee that Jesus preached about.

Posted by: Aquarius1 | December 26, 2009 9:50 AM | Report abuse

In addition to reading the Constitution, read some biographies of the Founding Fathers. Noted founder Ben Franklin was a Deist and a proponent of the Enlightenment (and somewhat of a ladies man, if you're being judgmental about people's personal lives).

There was serious intellectual debate among the founders about the basis for this country and what they hoped to achieve. They weren't all Christians in your extreme definition of "People have to go to church on Xmas and they have to do it on the U.S. Mainland for it to be real" Christians.

Seriously? Read Franklin, Hamilton, Jefferson, etc. and see brilliant and passionate debate.

And then consider doing some true charity for others in this holiday season -- and radical notion -- think about doing it for people who you don't necessarily agree with. Jesus would be proud of you.

Posted by: HeyKat | December 26, 2009 9:30 AM | Report abuse

When I think of the courageous Patriot(s) who risked their lives to take down one of bozo's african/islamofacists murdering buddies on that plane, I am reminded that Americans deserve so much more in a President than we've got in this gutless bum. The way he is destroying our country by stealing tax money to line the pockets of his democrat cabal, while at the same time spending our tax dollars on a lifestyle a Saudi King would envy, has made Christmas, 2009, the saddest in my memory! Our only hope rests in the never say die, go down swinging, fighting spirit of the American Citizen, possibly best exhibited by US Grant. After the stunning defeat (near annilation) of the union boys on the first day at Shiloh in a brilliant Confederaate surprise attack, General Sherman rode up to Grant and said, "Grant, we had the devil's own day today". Grant looked up calmly, and replied, "Whip 'em tomorrow, though." And he did. Obama's assault on America has made 2009 a long, non stop, first day at Shiloh for all freedom loving Americans. I trust, that with God's help, American Patriots will once again, rise up and "whip 'em tomorrow, though"!

Posted by: hughglass | December 26, 2009 7:33 AM | Report abuse

This is pretty simple. The Obama's don't believe in Santa Claus.

Posted by: newroresident | December 25, 2009 11:05 PM | Report abuse

Maybe Obama should have spent Christmas in Detroit with the 20% unemployed instead of the rest of the fat cat Wall Street and health care CEO's in Hawaii playing golf. This is one sick country.

Forget religion, this president is as
out of touch as his previous 4 predecessors.

Posted by: wesatch | December 25, 2009 10:29 PM | Report abuse

Amazing, the President doesn't go to Church on Christmas, and that is now fueling those he is Muslim fires.

Why does his religion matter anyway? I don't think the constitution says you have to be an evangelical born again christian to be president.

Posted by: dnspikey | December 25, 2009 9:27 PM | Report abuse

My church was not open today. What am I to do?

As to the intent of the founding fathers I suggest you read what Thomas Jefferson had to say about some of the religious leaders of his time. There is a reason they insisted on separation of church and state.

Posted by: cdierd1944 | December 25, 2009 9:23 PM | Report abuse

The only place I need to see the President of the US, the elected leader of a nation with a diverse population including those of many different religious beliefs, is in the White House.

Religion, be it the the President's, his family's, or anyone else's is a personal and private matter. How, when, and where, the President practices or otherwise expresses his religious beliefs is and should be a private matter for him and his family. As well it should also be for the rest of the nation's population.

No one should be defining the US as a nation in any particular religious terms and one need go no farther than the first amendment to the Constitution of the United States in order to understand that.

Posted by: dannyw2 | December 25, 2009 8:08 PM | Report abuse

Commentator3: I have read the Constitution many times. For hundreds of years, the democracy in which we live has been considered a Christian countr. Perhaps you should reaquaint yourself with our founding father's vision of this nation. Obama says he is whatever he wants to be at any passing moment that fits the situation. Joe Wilson's tag at the SOU comes to mind when I hear Obama waiver on anything. He should lead by example.

Posted by: PittAlum | December 25, 2009 8:05 PM | Report abuse

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Posted by: huangzhixian181 | December 25, 2009 7:59 PM | Report abuse

This is not a theocracy and therefore the United States is not a "Christian Country". The President is entitled to celebrate holidays as he sees fit. Religion isn't the only way to instill values in children and in fact may not necessarily be the best way. Also, if Obama says he is a Christian, then he is Christian and not a Muslim. Besides, so what if he was?
(I am not Muslim by the way, just a tolerant American unlike a lot of Americans. Read the Consitution)

Posted by: commentator3 | December 25, 2009 7:47 PM | Report abuse

During the years we lived in Washington, we looked forward to services at the National Cathedral on Christmas Eve which was always attended by the First Family. To the Obama, religion in Chicago was a means to an end. So much for instilling values for your children at a young age. It has been nearly a year since the Obamas moved into the White House. They have yet to choose a church. I assume he is secretly embrassing his Muslim upbringing and isn't as yet ready to make that public. If he is a Christian, as President of this Christian country, he should act accordingly.

Posted by: PittAlum | December 25, 2009 6:54 PM | Report abuse

@thornegp2626 - Is ignorance truly bliss??

Posted by: letsgetreal | December 25, 2009 6:52 PM | Report abuse

Sad that some people believe that Obama should go to church and fake religious expression like some previous Presidents.

My family was at the gym at 5:30am and then returned home to take the dogs out for exercise. No, we don't go to church, nor do we critize anyone that does, or does not. We are all differnt and many of us do not judge people by religion.

Merry Christmas Mr. President, you are doing a great job.

Great Country America.

Posted by: COWENS99 | December 25, 2009 5:51 PM | Report abuse

No Church??
Preserving the muslim tradition??

Posted by: thornegp2626 | December 25, 2009 5:23 PM | Report abuse

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