Season's greetings from the Obamas
Dear Friends and Family,
It's hard to believe we've been in the White House for two years. That's about as long as Barack had been a senator before starting his presidential campaign -- a really long time! As in years past, we'd like to use this space to take a break from politics and talk about what really matters: Each other.
Honestly, it's been a tough year in our non-political lives. Barack was still reeling from the '09 loss of a good golf buddy, who sadly left the course after 47 years, when this friend was unexpectedly replaced in January by a pretty boy from Massachusetts who keeps shanking the ball right. Then Michelle had to calm all our friends down when that shawarma place moved in two blocks from our favorite all-American burger joint -- it has every right to be there! To top it off, Barack was forced to extend the worst policy of his predecessor: the Christmas Eve reindeer hunt on the South Lawn.
Sasha has had a stellar year in Girl Scouts, where she has learned a thing or two about leadership. During her troop's trip to the National Zoo, she and some other scouts got lost on the Asia Trail. Sasha, the group leader, had an exit strategy: Start withdrawing from the zoo right away. But another girl defied her in front of everyone, arguing that they should call for more troops to help -- all the while risking that everyone might get eaten by bears. Sasha promptly demanded her resignation.
Malia got her own taste of controversy when a girl at Sidwell Friends blogged all of Malia's private text messages. They revealed everything -- Malia's candid thoughts on her teacher ("feckless, vain, and ineffective") as well as who she liked, who she like liked, and her list of frenemies. The culprit finally turned herself in to the principal. Some parents are calling for her extradition to another school but Barack and Michelle just want to make sure nothing ever happens again to upset Malia's social status.
One bit of good news: Michelle's work in the garden finally paid off last spring. We'd been trying to grow Brussels sprouts for a year but had run into resistance from the gardening staff. The soil wasn't right. The sprouts would be too expensive. They'd kill old people. Finally, with the right prodding and persuasion -- not to mention lots of fertilizer -- we got their consent and reaped a historic harvest. (Vice President Biden even said it was a big deal.) But then we learned that people don't like Brussels sprouts.
You probably heard this next story, but we have to tell it anyway: Barack clogged the toilet in the East Wing and -- sorry, this is so embarrassing -- the thing overflowed. It just kept spilling and spilling and spilling. At first the White House plumbers said it was under control. But the geyser only got worse. They tried mopping it up. They tried reverse suction. Michelle finally told Barack to "plunge the damn hole." That did the trick.
As for Bo, we're really losing patience with that dog. He got everything he wanted this year. He had a cough, we took him to the doctor. When Carla Bruni's poodle ate all his food, we refilled his bowl. He wanted a giant rubber ball, we got him a giant rubber ball. And what thanks do we get? He peed in every single room of the White House on Nov. 2. We think he'll come around by 2012.
Sorry if this letter sounds negative -- we really have had a wonderful year. The nice thing is, next year there will be less pressure, since we now have some extra help around the House: someone to drive the kids to practice, help them with homework, and all that. If stuff doesn't get done, we can blame the new guys!
Barack Michelle Malia Sasha Bo
Christopher Beam is a Slate political reporter.