Growing Up in the White House
A WHITE HOUSE CHRISTMAS
Not only does the President's family celebrate the holiday season at the foot of a themed Christmas tree – first lady Jacqueline Kennedy (left, in 1962 with John Jr. and Caroline) started the tradition with the "Nutcracker Suite" – but they also have a chance to make their own memories in the historic home. Says Capricia Marshall, former White House social secretary under Bill Clinton, "[The Obama girls] will love Christmas at the White House with all the twinkling lights and glittery ribbons."
THE FIRST PET
The Obamas have promised daughters Sasha, 7, and Malia, 10, a dog, and their new puppy will have some big paws to fill. From Millie to Socks to Amy Carter's beloved Siamese cat Misty Malarkey Ying Yang, the White House has been home to many an animal. But the biggest menagerie may have belonged to the Kennedys, who had dogs, rabbits, guinea pigs and the first pony, Macaroni (with the President and his children in 1962).
VIP MOVIE PASSES
Inside the White House is a cushy, 40-seat movie theater, here turned into a Super Bowl viewing party by Chelsea Clinton, Socks, President Clinton and then Gov. Ann Richards of Texas in 1993. While the theater had been an East Wing feature for decades, it got a Hollywood makeover during the Reagan years, when the studios spent $150,000 on an update and started giving the first family their pick of first-run features. What does that mean for Sasha and Malia? No standing in lines when HSM 4 comes out!
A NATIONAL PLAYGROUND
Long before Malia Obama, Amy Carter was America's First Fourth Grader. She was a John Travolta-loving tween who roller-skated all over the White House, from the East Wing to the South Lawn (here in 1980). What did the White House staff think of her regular sleepovers and pizza parties? "We're not phased by much of anything," says longtime White House Chief Usher Gary J.
Walters. "We've seen it all before."
THE EASTER EGG ROLL
"Malia and Sasha are going to love it," says White House scholar Douglas Wead of the tradition, which dates back to the Rutherford B. Hayes administration in 1878 (and here enjoyed by Amy Carter in 1978). "It is a great opportunity for them to interact with so many different kinds of children." Open to the public, the event last year entertained more than 22,000 guests.
There have been 21 White House weddings, with the last major ceremony 37 years ago, when Tricia Nixon (being walked down the Rose Garden aisle by dad Richard) wed Edward Cox. "The wedding was broadcast around the world and watched by millions," says Wead. "Tricia became internationally famous, and that is exactly what the Bushes didn't want for Jenna, which is why she got married in Crawford. They didn't need that kind of attention."
Like most everything else in the Nixon White House, the 450-lb. lemon cake that marked Tricia Nixon's wedding was fraught with intrigue. First, the White House said it was made from an old Nixon family recipe, but later it was revealed to be a creation of a White House chef. Then, when a New York Times writer attempted the recipe at home, it came out as "mush on the outside and soup on the inside." Fortunately, the more than 7-ft.-tall confection held together just fine on the big day.
Malia and Sasha campaigned with their parents across the nation, but soon they could be traveling even farther: across continents. The most recent globe-trotting first family members, the Bush twins took advantage of their passports, going everywhere from China to South America and Africa – including a 2003 safari stop with Dad for Barbara (in Botswana) and a humanitarian trip with Mom for Jenna (in Dakar) in 2007.
While Luci Johnson (left, in 1964) attended the Episcopalian National Cathedral School and Amy Carter went to public school, the Obamas are having their daughters follow in Chelsea Clinton's footsteps at the exclusive Sidwell Friends – where tuition is nearly $30,000 a year. "A number of great schools were considered," Katie McCormick Lelyveld, a spokeswoman for the new first lady, told the Wall Street Journal. "In the end, the Obamas selected the school that was the best fit for what their daughters need right now."
AND EVENTUALLY TRUE LOVE?
Is the White House the right place for romance? Well, it worked for Lyndon Johnson's daughter Lynda, here riding a Ferris wheel on the South Lawn with her future husband (and, later, Virginia senator) Charles Robb in 1967. They met in the White House when Robb was working as a Marine Guard, and later married there. More recently George Bush's daughter Jenna met husband Henry Hagar, a former White House aide, when both were working on her father's 2004 re-election campaign.