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For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
December 17, 2002
Remarks by the President and Mrs. Bush at the White House Children's Story Hour
The Roosevelt Room
1:15 P.M. EDT
STUDENTS: Merry Christmas.
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you. Third graders?
THE PRESIDENT: Good. Where's your teachers? Thank you for teaching. Welcome. We're glad you're here. This is the Roosevelt Room in the White House.
MRS. BUSH: And this painting behind us is Teddy Roosevelt, up above.
MRS. BUSH: He was one of our Presidents 100 years ago. One hundred years ago.
THE PRESIDENT: Where's Burnie Elementary? Welcome.
St. Agnes? Glad you all are here. Thanks for coming.
Laura and I thought we'd read a Christmas story to you, if that's okay.
THE PRESIDENT: Glad you accepted it. (Laughter.) That's what's going to happen.
Have you heard the one that starts with, "'Twas the night before Christmas"?
THE PRESIDENT: And what comes next?
STUDENTS: I can't see it.
THE PRESIDENT: Oh, I'm sorry. "'Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house --
MRS. BUSH: "Not a creature was stirring" --
THE PRESIDENT: " -- not even a mouse."
MRS. BUSH: Mouse.
THE PRESIDENT: Nobody was stirring. It was kind of quiet, wasn't it? You had better read that, because I can't see it.
MRS. BUSH: (Laughter.) "The stockings were hung by the chimney with care, in hope that St. Nicholas soon would be there. The children were nestled all snug in their beds."
Don't they look snug?
MRS. BUSH: "While visions of sugar-plums danced in their heads." What does that mean? Do you know what sugar-plums are?
MRS. BUSH: Candy. So they're thinking maybe their stockings will have candy in them, don't they?
THE PRESIDENT: You can't see? You come right over here.
MRS. BUSH: "And ma in her kerchief and I in my cap had just settled down for a long winter's nap." Do you all want to come up closer here?
THE PRESIDENT: It may be easier to see.
MRS. BUSH: Yes. Come on over here so you can see. These are really beautiful pictures, if you can see close.
"When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter, I sprang from my bed to see what was the matter. Away to the window I flew like a flash, tore open the shutters, threw up the sash. The moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow, gave a luster of midday to the objects below. When what to my wondering eyes should appear" -- do you all know?
MRS. BUSH: "A miniature sleigh and eight tiny reindeer."
THE PRESIDENT: Yes.
MRS. BUSH: "With a little old man so jolly and quick, I knew in a moment it must be" --
STUDENTS: St. Nick.
MRS. BUSH: "St. Nick." Do you like these pictures?
MRS. BUSH: "More rapid than eagles, the coursers they came, and he whistled and shouted and called them by name."
Do you know the name of the reindeers? "Now Dasher, now Dancer, now Prancer and Vixen! On Comet, on Cupid, on Donner and Blitzen." See all these reindeer?
THE PRESIDENT: Anybody in this room named Blitzen? (Laughter.)
MRS. BUSH: Do you all remember these names? "Dasher and Dancer, and Comet and Cupid" --
STUDENT: And Rudolph.
MRS. BUSH: And Rudolph. That's right.
THE PRESIDENT: Right.
MRS. BUSH: He's not in this story, though. He came later.
"To the top of the porch, to the top of the wall! Now, dash away, dash away, dash away all!"
"As dry leaves before the wild hurricane fly, when they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky, so up to the house-top the coursers they flew, with a sleigh full of toys, and St. Nicholas, too."
This is pretty. You notice who is in every picture -- well, not every one.
"And then in a twinkling I heard on the roof the prancing and pawing of each little hoof. As I drew in my head and was turning around, down the chimney he came with a bound.
"He was dressed all in fur from his head to his foot. And his clothes were all tarnished with ashes and soot. A bundle of toys he had flung on his back, and he looked like a peddler just about to open his pack."
See all those toys?
MRS. BUSH: "His eyes how they twinkled! His dimples, how merry! His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry. His droll little mouth was drawn up in a bow, and the beard on his chin was as white as the snow."
Is this what we all think Santa Claus looks like?
MRS. BUSH: With a white beard?
MRS. BUSH: And a nose like a cherry?
"The stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth, and the smoke it encircled his head like a wreath. He had a broad face and a round little belly that shook when he laughed like a bowl full of jelly. He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf, and I laughed when I saw him, in spite of myself. A wink of his eye and a twist of his head soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread."
THE PRESIDENT: Pretty exciting so far, isn't it. (Laughter.)
MRS. BUSH: "He spoke not a word, but went straight to work, and filled all the stockings; and then he turned with a jerk."
And what's he going to do now? How's he going to get out? Back up the chimney, isn't he?
"And laying his finger aside of his nose, and giving a nod, up the chimney he rose."
THE PRESIDENT: That's kind of hard to do. (Laughter.) Have you ever tried to crawl up your chimney?
MRS. BUSH: "He sprang to his sleigh and to his team gave a whistle. And away they all flew like the down of a thistle. But I heard him exclaim as he went out of sight" -- what did he exclaim? Do you remember the very end of this? Do you? What?
STUDENT: Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night.
THE PRESIDENT: Good.
MRS. BUSH: That's right. Exactly.
THE PRESIDENT: Very good.
MRS. BUSH: "Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night."
THE PRESIDENT: And that's what we want to say to you all: Merry Christmas.
END 1:18 P.M. EDT