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First lady helps track Santa on Christmas Eve

By the CNN Wire Staff
updated 10:56 PM EST, Sat December 24, 2011
First lady Michelle Obama talks to kids about Santa's progress.
First lady Michelle Obama talks to kids about Santa's progress.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Michelle Obama answers phone calls for NORAD's Santa tracker
  • She tells one caller she has already gotten what she wanted: her family is together
  • NORAD's Santa tracker started by accident in 1955

(CNN) -- First lady Michelle Obama got into the Christmas spirit Saturday by helping field phone calls from excited children eagerly tracking Santa and his sleigh full of toys across the world.

"I've spotted a little dot, flashing dot that is over -- right now, Santa's sleigh is over the country of Latvia. And he's delivering toys there," Obama told three siblings. "It looks like he's got all nine reindeer with him. And it looks like that sleigh is pretty full -- yep, that's what the experts here are saying."

Obama took the phone calls from Hawaii where the first family is vacationing for Christmas.

She helped track Santa's toy delivery route via a Google map specially created each year by the North American Aerospace Command, also known as NORAD. A tiny Santa icon is used to show his current location while a countdown clock below the map lets users know where he'll take his sleigh next.

Most of the children she spoke to were more concerned with finding out Santa's whereabouts than talking to the first lady, but one parent appeared to catch Obama by surprise when he asked, "What do you want for Christmas this year from Santa?"

"Oh, my goodness," Obama replied. "I have what I wanted for Christmas: the president is here with us, and we're all together as a family. I think we were all praying and praying, and asking Santa, and the Tooth Fairy, and every fairy that they could think of -- that's what Malia and Sasha were doing -- that he would be able to be with us on Christmas."

The president had delayed joining his family in Hawaii until Congress passed a deal to extend the payroll tax cut. He departed Washington on Friday shortly after signing the two-month extension.

The NORAD Santa tracker started by accident in 1955 when a Sears ad misprinted Santa's supposed telephone number. A child who dialed the number instead reached what was then called the Continental Air Defense Command and the commander on duty played along, beginning the tradition.

For the second year in a row, Obama was one of the 1,200 volunteers who answer phone calls and e-mails from children around the world.

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