WASHINGTON (AP) — Michelle Obama loved Barbie dolls as a girl. She now prefers Christmas without snow, after living most of her life in Chicago. She isn’t sure how she’ll celebrate her 50th birthday in about a month but says “it might involve some dancing.”

Revelations from a new interview with a glossy magazine? Guess again.  

The first lady disclosed these tidbits and a few more, including what’s on the Christmas gift lists for her husband and two dogs, during an annual holiday visit Monday with patients at Washington’s leading children’s hospital.

It included a question-and-answer session with the pint-sized patients, 14 questions in all.

“I don’t take questions from the press. They will tell you that,” Mrs. Obama replied to one questioner as she sat in front of a towering Christmas tree in the atrium of Children’s National Health System. “I only take questions from you guys once a year here.”

Her appearance continued a first lady tradition that dates back more than 60 years to Bess Truman, who first brought holiday cheer to children not well enough to leave the hospital in time for Christmas.

Mrs. Obama first visited privately with patients and staff before coming to the atrium to read the Christmas classic, “Twas the Night Before Christmas,” to another group of children and their adult companions or nurses.

She brought along family dogs Bo and Sunny for added cheer.

Asked to name her favorite holiday song, the first lady instead broke into song: “Chestnuts roasting on an open fire ….,” she sang before dryly noting: “I forgot the press was here.”

Her best Christmas gift? “I’m sure it was some Barbie-related thing. When I was little, I loved Barbie dolls and I had everything Barbie,” Mrs. Obama said. “I had the town house and the car and all the little outfits, and the shoes that never stayed on their feet.”

She’s no longer a fan of white Christmases.

“The truth is, now that I’m older, I prefer a Christmas without snow,” Mrs. Obama said. “When you’re older, you know, old people, snow is a hassle. You’ve got to shovel it. And then when the ice forms on your car window shield there’s nothing worse than scraping that off.”

She turns 50 on Jan. 17, but hasn’t finalized her birthday party plans.

“I’m going to be 50. Fifty and fabulous,” the first lady said, pumping a fist high above her head. “I’m not exactly sure yet what I’m going to do but it might involve some dancing.”

As for family Christmas gifts, President Barack Obama most likely will get workout clothes. “He said that’s what he wanted,” she said. The dogs are getting chew toys. Eldest daughter Malia, 15, wanted a cellphone, but Mrs. Obama said her father spoiled that plan by getting one for her early.


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Darlene Superville

Associated Press