In keeping with tradition, former President Barack Obama gifted the internet with a present on Christmas morning. Obama shared a Christmas photo of his family posed in front of a huge decked-out tree on his Twitter and Facebook accounts on Monday, eliciting a flurry of emotional reactions from social media users.
"On behalf of the Obama family, Merry Christmas!" the former president wrote in a tweet that accompanied the photo. "We wish you joy and peace this holiday season."
The photo, one that may have actually been taken during a previous year, features a jovial Obama apparently caught mid-laugh standing beside former first lady Michelle Obama. A smiling Malia and Sasha, donning white and black dresses respectively, bookend their parents while a crew of five mischievous looking ruddy-cheeked "elves" — including one pulling a "funny face" — stand before the former first family.
And while the Obamas may no longer be the first family living in the White House, their Christmas photo quickly garnered a lot of love. On Twitter, the photo quickly garnered more than 91,000 likes, 12,000 replies, and roughly 428,000 retweets in just two short hours. On Facebook, it took only 20 minutes for the the photo to hit 100,000 likes.
Responses to the former president's holiday photo varied from cherry Christmas greetings to emotional pleas to return to the White House. "Merry Christmas to the last great president America has had," one Twitter user said. "Happy Christmas, we miss you and your family," another tweeted to Obama. "Please come back," another Twitter user wrote in reply.
If the picture Obama shared this Christmas looks a tad familiar to you, it's likely due to the fact the Obama family has posed in this location, and with crews of "elves," before. The holiday photo released by Obama this year appears to have been snapped, like many Obama Christmas photos of previous years, at the National Building Museum in Washington, D.C. — the distinctive arches and columns of the museum's historic Great Hall give the building away. As the first family, the Obamas had participated in the popular holiday special Christmas in Washington up until 2015, when broadcaster TNT announced they would no longer broadcast the program (by no fault of the Obamas).
In the year since they've left the White House, the Obama family has kept busy. While eldest daughter Malia began her first year at Harvard University, the younger Sasha has continued with high school in Washington, D.C.
Meanwhile, in between taking a tropical vacation, touring New York, and speaking at a handful of events around the world, Obama and Michelle launched the Obama Foundation. And earlier this month, Obama donned a Santa hat to surprise a group of kids at the Boys & Girls Club of Greater Washington with gifts. It was reportedly the fifth surprise visit Obama and Michelle had made to schools and community centers since beginning their post-presidency lives.
On Monday, Obama dropped his family's Christmas portrait around the same time President Donald Trump took to Twitter to congratulate himself for leading the charge in defending the phrase "Merry Christmas" from attacks.
People are proud to be saying Merry Christmas again. I am proud to have led the charge against the assault of our cherished and beautiful phrase. MERRY CHRISTMAS!!!!!
Throughout the 2016 presidential campaign, Trump often suggested the Obama administration had not said "Merry Christmas" out of a need to be politically correct. Trump vowed he'd bring the phrase "Merry Christmas" back to the White House. But as video footage compiled by MSNBC showed, former President Obama routinely said "Merry Christmas" while president.
President Trump and First Lady Melania Trump shared their own holiday greeting Monday, wishing "America and the entire world" a "very merry Christmas" in a video message.