"So, are you excited about Christmas?" the president asked the children, who had gathered in tight around them.
From time to time Mr. Clinton allowed the kids - visiting from California - to fill in the words. And at the end of the story, the president gave the kids the last word:
"And I heard him exclaim as he drove out of sight:" Mr. Clinton read. "Merry Christmas to all, and to all a ..."
"Good night!" the children replied.
The event, scheduled for 1:30, didn't see the first couple - presumably detained by affairs of state - arrive on the scene until just after 2 p.m.
The proceedings began with choral renditions of Frosty the Snowman, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, and O Little Town of Bethlehem as the children settled down.
But the choir went deep into its repertoire before the Clintons got there, midway through Jingle Bell Rock.
Presiding over the singing were a reindeer and Frosty himself, not to mention St. Nick.
After the brief reading, the Clintons posed for photographs, signed autographs, sung a few carols and shook hands with all the participants.
Savor the Season