As pool was allowed into the State Dining room 6:30 pm the president and First Lady were already on their separate phones, talking to children whose calls to NORAD had been patched through to the White House lines.
POTUS, to our right, was in a black suit with a red striped tie.
The First Lady, to our left, wore a high neck black sheath dress and what looked like high reddish or maroon heels.
They sat at separate wooden end type tables, framing a full crackling fire in the hearth behind them (under the portrait of Lincoln). Two Christmas trees also flanked the hearth.
Trump (in booming voice) to a kid named Coleman: “Hello, is this Coleman? Merry Christmas. How are you? How old are you?…. Are you doing well in school? Are you still a believer in Santa?”
Melania (in a soft voice) to unidentified child: “How are you? Are you tracking Santa? …I want to wish you a Merry Christmas. Thank you. Nice talking to you.”
Trump to another kid on the line, possibly from Indiana: “What’s Santa going to get you for Christmas? Who’s with you….Have a great Christmas., and I’ll talk to you again, OK?”
Melania to another child: “Are you tracking Santa? Do you know where he is?… I hope your dreams come true”
Trump also could be heard asking kids where they were from and then thanking a general, possibly from NORAD or the North American Aerospace Command.
We could only hear the Trumps’ end of the conversation.
BTW, Santa Tracker is a 63-year tradition of tracking Santa’s sleigh from the North Pole to children all over the world. Despite the shutdown, military personnel were on the operation, as were, reportedly, some 1,500 people who volunteer each year.
Report By: Kevin Diaz, Houston Chronicle/Hearst Newspapers