I Saw First Ladies Kissing Santa Claus (And A First Dog Dressed As Him)

Dec 25, 2016

It's Christmas, and Santa Claus just completed his annual, almost unbelievable, trip around the world to drop off presents for children everywhere.

But on his way, he's stopped off through the years to hang out with the first family — sometimes, perhaps, there was some mistletoe around.

On at least two photographed occasions, first ladies have planted a smooch on Santa's cheek.

Here was Barbara Bush (as hubby George H.W. looks on):

Barbara Bush kisses Santa on Dec. 20, 1988, as her husband, President George H.W. Bush, watches.
Doug Mills / AP

Nancy Reagan seemed to have a particular fondness for celebrity Santas. Here she is on the lap of Mr. T, from A-Team days ...

First lady Nancy Reagan sits on the knee of Mr. T, dressed as Santa Claus, and gives him a peck on the head, as he joined her for a preview of the White House Christmas decor in 1983.
Ira Schwarz / AP

... and under the arm of Larry Hagman, the actor who played J.R. Ewing of 1980s Dallas fame:

First lady Nancy Reagan holds Rex the dog and looks up at Larry Hagman, the actor who played J.R. Ewing on the hit 1980s show Dallas and who is dressed as Santa at the White House, Dec. 9, 1985.
Bob Daugherty / AP

Even President Obama looked like he was about to get in on a Santa smooch a couple of years ago:

President Obama hugs Santa — and maybe braces for a kiss on the cheek — at the National Christmas Tree lighting ceremony in 2013.
Charles Dharapak / AP

Encounters with Santa are not always so ... sassy. Sometimes, they're just plain goofy. Sometimes presidents sing ...

President Obama sings "Jingle Bells" with Santa, James Taylor, Eva Longoria, and Garth Brooks during the lighting ceremony for the 2016 National Christmas Tree.
Alex Brandon / AP

... and dance with Santa ...

President Obama dances onstage with Santa and members of Fifth Harmony during the National Christmas Tree Lighting in 2014.
Carolyn Kaster / AP

And George W. Bush, who loved to festively sing and dance ...


... got in on the act with Santa in 2006:

President George W. Bush and first lady Laura Bush sing a Christmas carol with Cathy Rigby and Santa Claus after lighting the National Christmas Tree in 2006.
Mandel Ngan / AFP/Getty Images

Sometimes, though, the first families try to bring some seriousness. They're always trying to make Santa read to kids:

Santa gestures toward first lady Michelle Obama as she reads The Night Before Christmas in 2011 at Children's National Medical Center in Washington.
Evan Vucci / AP

More reading:

President Clinton reads "Twas the Night Before Christmas to children at the White House in 1995, as Santa looks on.
J. Scott Applewhite / AP

Don't they know the kids just want the presents — or to see Rudolph?

President Clinton with then first lady Hillary Clinton, Santa and Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer on Dec. 22, 1994.
Joe Marquette / AP

Presidential Santa encounters go back a long way. Sometimes, presidents even dress their dogs as Santa, like Lyndon Johnson did with his presidential pup, Yuki in 1967:

President Lyndon B. Johnson's presidential pup, Yuki, sports a Santa Claus costume — a red-and-white hat and beard, as the dog waited for Johnson to light the National Christmas Tree, Dec. 15, 1967.
Anonymous / AP

Sometimes the encounters were kept on ice (before all this global warming talk, of course):

President Jimmy Carter joins Santa and ice skating star Peggy Fleming at a White House reception in 1980, where she and other skaters provided the entertainment.
Dennis Cook / AP

Didn't know Santa could skate? Of course he can. He's from the North Pole.

Many may not remember or know that one man, for 41 years, entertained the first family as Santa — Robert George, a Southern Californian, who, as AP dubbed him, was "Santa Claus to six Presidents." His "year-round Christmas display charmed thousands of disadvantaged and disabled children in Southern California but bedeviled some of his neighbors."

Robert George, recognized as the official Santa to six presidents beginning in 1956, poses with photos of himself and past presidents in this Dec. 11, 1982, photo. He died in 1998.
Reed Saxon / AP

It endeared George to President Eisenhower and each successive president until his death in 1998.

"Mr. George, a retired barber, became the nation's Santa Claus in 1956 when President Dwight D. Eisenhower heard about his display and invited him to the White House," AP noted in his obit. "He subsequently accepted similar invitations from Presidents John F. Kennedy, Richard M. Nixon, Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter and George Bush. Mr. George was scheduled to attend a photo session last October [1998] with President Clinton but was forced to cancel the trip because of illness."

No one has taken George's place, but maybe it's one tradition worth bringing back. After all, this is the year of "Make America Great Again."

Speaking of #MAGA, it's not clear what Trump has in store for Santa, but Santa did show up to a Trump event earlier this month, so ...

Santa Claus attends a Trump thank you tour event in North Carolina on Dec. 6.
Andrew Harnik / AP

He's also gotten in on the Santa (sort of) act in the past:

The Radio City Rockettes listen as Donald Trump speaks during a ceremony to help The Salvation Army kick off its annual Christmas kettle effort at the Trump Tower Atrium Nov. 23, 2004.
Scott Gries / Getty Images

And we know for certain, he wants to wish everyone a "Merry Christmas" (not Happy Holidays). Just look at all those Christmas trees:

President-elect Trump, flanked by decorated Christmas trees, speaks at rally in Wisconsin. Trump said at the event, "We are going to say Merry Christmas again," implying a war on Christmas.
Evan Vucci / AP

Merry Christmas (and Happy Holidays) from all of us to all of you.

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