UPDATED WITH COMMENT FROM THE WHITE HOUSE….
WASHINGTON–Getting an early birthday gift, First Lady Michelle Obama, who turns 50 on Jan. 17, stayed behind in Hawaii while President Barack Obama, Malia and Sasha flew back late Saturday to this snowy and cold city.
According to the White House, “As part of her birthday gift from the President, the First Lady will remain in Hawaii to spend time with friends ahead of her upcoming 50th birthday.”
Regarding extra costs for staying in Hawaii and flying back solo, a White House official said after I inquired, “As with all personal travel, the First Family will appropriately fund personal expenses.”
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Though raised in Chicago, Mrs. Obama has spoken out several times about her dislike for Chicago winters. If she had returned to Washington today from Hawaii–with its summer weather–she would face a chill–but not as bad as in Chicago.
The president and his daughters will land on Sunday. Chicago pals Marty Nesbitt and Eric Whitaker have been vacationing with the First Family in Hawaii, joining presidential golf games.
Invitations have been sent for a Jan. 18 50th birthday party at the White House for Mrs. Obama, starting at 9 p.m.
While visiting the Children’s National Medical Center on Dec. 16, a youngster asked her how she would celebrate her milestone birthday. “Fifty and fabulous. January 17th. . . . It might involve some dancing. A little Dougie,” she said.
The First Family departed for their annual vacation in the president’s native Hawaii on Dec. 20.
MICHELLE OBAMA ON CHICAGO WINTERS
On Nov. 13, 2011, Mrs. Obama was in Hawaii for the APEC summit–with her own schedule which took her one Saturday to the MA’O organic farm in a native Hawaii community for a roundtable with area youth who help grow the fruits and vegetables. One girl was headed to Chicago–in February–and Mrs. Obama told her the weather “won’t be that fun.”
During the roundtable, Mrs. Obama was aware that Michelle “Miki” Arasato, 21–one of the participants–was headed to her hometown. Arasato will be in Chicago for a Kellogg Foundation project.
“Chicago in February — she doesn’t realize that it won’t be that fun,” Mrs. Obama said.
“…Bring a sweater, long underwear. … Hats and gloves. Someone who knows cold, help her before she goes.”
NOT THE FIRST TIME: Mrs. Obama has spoken out before about her dislike of Chicago’s winters. In April, 2011, in a roundtable with students in Washington, Mrs. Obama was talking about trips back home to Chicago (which have turned out to be very rare). “Chicago gets kind of cold in the winter, so we kind of avoid it in the winter because it’s cold. So we don’t miss the cold.”