(WASHINGTON) — President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden honored those grieving loved ones lost during the pandemic in their joint message to Americans on Christmas Day.
The Bidens evoked classic Christmas themes, such as “the promise of hope and renewal” during “this season of joy,” but acknowledged that many are practicing “finding light in the darkness, which is also perhaps the most American of things to do.”
“We pray for you to find strength from sorrow and purpose from pain,” the Bidens said.
During their first Christmas in the White House, the Bidens reflected on the “enormous courage, character, resilience” displayed by Americans in the past year, lauding those who “show how our differences are precious and our similarities infinite.”
“This sacred season is yet another reminder that we are a great nation because we are a good people,” they wrote.
The president and first lady later met virtually with service members to thank them for serving far from home on Christmas.
Commander, the Bidens’ new German shepherd puppy, lied on the couch between them during the meeting.
The Bidens also spread Christmas cheer on Friday by visiting children at the Children’s National Hospital in Washington, D.C., the first time in history a sitting president accompanied the first lady on the traditional Christmas Eve outing, according to the White House.
Also on Friday, the Bidens called into the phone line run by the North American Aerospace Defense Command, or NORAD, which tracks Santa Claus’ path across the globe. During the call, a father directed a vulgar insult toward the president.
The man, who identified himself as “Jared,” spoke to the Bidens about his children before saying, “Let’s go, Brandon,” before the call ended. The statement, popular among conservatives who oppose the president, has become code for the phrase, “f— Joe Biden,” stemming from a reporter misinterpreting a chant after a NASCAR race.
The Bidens attended mass virtually on Friday, according to a White House official. They attended the Christmas Eve mass from the White House’s East Room, the official said.
Two years into the pandemic and amid another surge in positive cases with the highly transmissible omicron variant, Biden told ABC News World News Tonight anchor David Muir in an exclusive interview earlier this week that “nothing’s been good enough” when it comes to the availability of at-home coronavirus tests.
The Biden administration has purchased 500 million at-home tests to distribute to Americans for free, but they will not be available until after the new year.
Biden expressed regret to Muir for not ordering the tests sooner, saying he wished he would have thought to do it two months ago.
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