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Happy Holidays from the Obamas

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Written by the Washington Post’s Alexandra Petri, author of the ComPost blog and a Post editorial page contributor. Animation by Ann Telnaes.

Dear Friends and Family,

This has not been an easy holiday season. Let me be clear: This holiday letter is not all that important. Put it down and go hug your kids. (I’ve been hugging Malia and Sasha very tight lately. They’re tolerating it.) Seriously. I’ll wait.

But the holidays are here, and I thought I should catch you up on what our family did in 2012. I feel a bit strange writing you a letter, given how many e-mails, tweets and Facebook messages I have sent many of you in the past year. Sorry about all of those. I hate to be the guy constantly suggesting that you “like” things and follow me on Twitter and vote for me. #overdoingit

Like many Americans, most of this past year I worried that I was going to lose my job. Thank you for ensuring that I didn’t. And thank you, everyone else who applied for my position, for being — how do I put this? — just weird enough. You made it much easier than it should have been.

Let’s see. What else have I done this year?

Malia wanted to go on a school skiing trip. “Everybody else gets to go!” she protested. “How can you deny my right to ski?” Michelle and I were holding out, but Malia was married to the idea. And then Joe had to go and say he was “absolutely comfortable” with it. He kind of forced our hand there.

Ever since we moved to the White House, Sasha and Malia have kept getting sick, and it was running up quite a bill. We got some advice from Bill and Hillary, who tried a variety of approaches with Chelsea but couldn’t get any of them to stick. So, as you well know, Michelle and I instituted an earlier bedtime for the girls. It was unpopular, even though we told them it would bend the sleep curve and make them healthier. The girls kicked up a big fuss about it. Sasha tried to declare it illegal.

Finally, they appealed to the ultimate authority: Grandma. After a lot of deliberation, Grandma emerged with a verdict that surprised but delighted us. She said that we were parents, and as parents, we had the power to punish our children. We had been telling and telling them it wasn’t a punishment — it was for their own good! — but oh well, we’ll take it.

Over the summer, Sasha started talking to a chair. She says that Invisible Dad is much more fun and uses more colorful language. Kids and their imaginations!

Now that Sasha is almost in middle school, she is worried about being popular, but — between you and me — I don’t think she’s going about it the right way. She made a list of 47 classmates who she said were lazy freeloaders and would not like her no matter what she did, so she wasn’t going to even try to sway them. Of course, after that, they liked her even less.

She was sad and asked me for a pony for Christmas. Thanks to the success of “Gangnam Style,” I managed to give her an even cooler gift: an invisible pony! She is letting Invisible Dad ride it.

HI THERE, THIS IS MITT ROMNEY AND ANN AND OUR FIVE SONS AND 18 GRANDCHILDREN IN MATCHING OUTFITS, WISHING YOU A WONDERFUL HOLIDAY SEASON! WE RECORDED A CD OF MITT SINGING HIS FAVORITE PATRIOTIC HOLIDAY ANTHEMS AND TOOK A FAMILY PICTURE IN THE WHITE HOUSE YEARS AGO, SO WE THOUGHT WE MIGHT AS WELL SEND IT.

RAFALCA SAYS HELLO — NEIGH, HE SAYS —

I’m sorry, I didn’t write that last part. I just got up to hug Malia and Sasha again, and when I came back there was all this text in very neat block letters, and the room smelled like capitalism. That’s the last time I invite a loser over for lunch.

Malia had her first debate team performance. Michelle and I were so proud. She fell asleep during only one of the three debates! Outstanding, right?

We’ve been playing a lot of Scrabble as a family. In our biggest game, Malia won. Sasha said the scorekeeping was skewed. I had to call Nate Silver to come to the house and make peace between them. It was a teachable moment for Sasha, but she said she would prefer a pony. I think I need to cut off her access to Fox News.

Bo made a big mess. Hillary, who usually handles messes (something about keeping the carpet intact for 2016) wasn’t around, so our friend Susan came by and tried to clean up. But the mess just got messier, and everyone claimed she was hiding things under the rug. Tough luck for Susan! She was in the running to be our primary dog-sitter, but we’ll have to pick someone who’s better with carpets. Long-winded Uncle John will have to do.

But how are you? Did you get those gifts I sent you, young voters and Latinos? (Thank you for your votes, by the way. Couldn’t have done it without you.)

Much love,

Barack, Michelle and the Girls

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