Which Obama will be Gift Giver-in-Chief?

December 11, 2009


First lady Michelle Obama’s favorite childhood Christmas present was a dollhouse, a gift that may have presaged her current role as  the nation’s tastemaker, admired and followed for her stylish clothing and the mark she is making on the White House.

“It was a metal dollhouse with plastic furniture,” she told U.S. talk show host Oprah Winfrey for her upcoming “Christmas at the White House” television special that  airs on ABC at 10 p.m. Sunday.  “… I remember I really didn’t know how to set up a house, so I had all the furniture lined up along the walls as opposed to nestled around the fireplace, but I loved that little dollhouse.”

President Barack Obama’s favorite present? A basketball given by his father, who was absent for most of his childhood, and which the president later realized probably had a lot to do with his lifelong love for the sport.

“I do remember the one time I met my father he was visiting during Christmas and he gave me a basketball and – the degree to which I came to love basketball – it wasn’t until much later in life that I realized, ‘Actually, he gave me that basketball’,” Obama said. “I think there was some cause and effect there in terms of the degree to which I just ended up taking up the sport as a kid who didn’t know his dad.”

But this year, the pressure is on the president, the first lady joked, after Winfrey asked whether Obama felt more pressure to give a better gift because of his new position. This holiday season is the couple’s first in the White House.

“You should feel pressure,” Michelle Obama said.

“I have given some good gifts — you get some nice stuff,” the president responded. “Here’s the general rule, I give nicer stuff than I get.”

His wife disagreed, saying: “No way. I gave you good gifts last year.”

To which the president brought up the case made by legions of U.S. fathers — that the June “Father’s Day” holiday is taken nowhere near as seriously as the May “Mother’s Day” celebration, and that gifts to fathers never match those given mothers.

“You know, it’s like Mother’s Day and Father’s Day,” Obama said, to be interrupted by his wife.

“We’re talking about Christmas, don’t become distracted,” she said.

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Photo credit: U.S. President Barack Obama (L-R), with daughters Malia, Sasha and wife Michelle press a button to light the White House Christmas tree in Washington, December 3, 2009. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

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