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Obamas in Hawaii: No Christmas Church, Accident Scare, Flight 253, Tennis and Golf

5 years ago
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Since the last Daily Flotus raised the question of whether the Obama family would attend church services on Christmas while vacationing in Hawaii, an answer is in order: No, they did not, a White House staffer told me.

The vacation has been eventful in other ways, interrupted by the Northwest Airlines Christmas Day terror incident and a scare Monday when the child of one of the Obamas' Chicago pals suffered a minor injury while surfing.
The Obama family, with friends from Chicago and boyhood pals of the president from Honolulu, have been resting, playing tennis and golf, hitting the beach and eating out since arriving on Christmas Eve. President Obama's vacation has included early morning national security briefings on the attempt to destroy Detroit-bound Flight 253. The president on Monday went to Marine Corps Base Hawaii to read a statement on the incident, saying he ordered an investigation of how the Nigerian-born suspect was able to hold a valid U.S. visa, and was allowed to board a U.S.-bound plane with explosives sewn in his pants, despite being on a terrorist watch list.

Also Monday, he played tennis with First Lady Michelle at the Kailua Racquet Club and then hit the Luana Hills Country Club for golf. The president, playing with Chicago pal Eric Whitaker, among others (Whitaker is a doctor and an executive at the University of Chicago Medical Center), suddenly rushed from the golf course back to the vacation compound on word that Whitaker's 9-year-old son was injured.

White House spokesman Bill Burton said, "Eric and Cheryl Whitaker's son was examined and released from the hospital. He is home playing with his friends and just fine. "

The president motorcaded back to the golf course.

On Sunday night, the First Couple and friends hit Alan Wong's Restaurant in Honolulu for a dinner that lasted about three hours. The group included the president's half sister, Maya Soetoro-Ng, and her husband, Konrad (the couple moved to Washington from Hawaii earlier this year); senior adviser Valerie Jarrett, with her daughter Laura, a law student; the Whitakers; Chicago friends Marty Nesbitt and his wife, Anita Blanchard (an obstetrician who delivered Malia and Sasha); and friends from Obama's Hawaii boyhood -- Michael Ramos, Greg Orme and Bobby Titcombe -- and their wives.

Meanwhile, the White House released a statement from the First Couple on Kwanzaa:


Michelle and I send warm wishes to all those celebrating Kwanzaa this holiday season. This is a joyous time of year when African Americans and all Americans come together to celebrate our blessings and the richness of our cultural traditions. This is also a time of reflection and renewal as we come to the end of one year and the beginning of another. The Kwanzaa message tells us that we should recall the lessons of the past even as we seize the promise of tomorrow.

The seven principles of Kwanzaa -- Unity, Self Determination, Collective Work and Responsibility, Cooperative Economics, Purpose, Creativity, and Faith -- express the values that have inspired us as individuals and families; communities and country. These same principles have sustained us as a nation during our darkest hours and provided hope for better days to come. Michelle and I know the challenges facing many African American families and families in all communities at this time, but we also know the spirit of perseverance and hope that is ever-present in the community. It is in this spirit that our family extends our prayers and best wishes during this season and for the New Year to come.

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