Jenna Bush Hager celebrated her 39th birthday on the Today show on Wednesday and was surprised with video messages from her friends and family, including her parents, twin sister, and three children.
The Today host was moved to tears and needed a few tissues as she listened to her loved ones pay tribute to her on the show. The moment was particularly special for the former first daughter, who won’t be able to spend Thanksgiving with her parents because of the pandemic.
‘I think 39 is the perfect year to celebrate in 2020,’ Jenna said of embarking on her last year in her 30s. ‘You know, it feels right, it feels good. I feel happy. I mean, I don’t know. I kind of feel like I should be older than 39.’
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Big day: Jenna Bush Hager (right) celebrated her 39th birthday on the Today show on Wednesday with the help of her co-host Hoda Kotb (left)
Aww: Jenna was honored with surprise video messages from her nearest and dearest, including parents, former President George W. Bush and former First Lady Laura Bush
The studio was decorated with flowers and balloons, including gold letter balloons that spelled out Jenna’s name.
‘We’ve gotta mark moments, man, no matter how we mark ’em,’ Jenna’s co-host Hoda Kotb, 56, said, adding: ‘We have a cake for you, but we are not allowed to cut it or taste it because of COVID, so you can take it home with you.’
Today show staffers joined the celebration via video chat and could be seen on the big screen in Studio 1A.
Jenna was honored with a compilation of video messages from her nearest and dearest, with her parents, former President George W. Bush and former First Lady Laura Bush, being the first to send their well-wishes.
Unbreakable bond: Jenna shared her birthday with her twin sister Barbara, who said there is no one in the world she’d rather share the day with
Looking back: During the video, Barbara reminisced about how ‘hilarious’ Jenna was when they were kids. Barbara (left) and Jenna (right) are pictured with their parents as children
Memories: Barbara said that they shared a car and friends when they were in high school
‘Jenna, your Dad and I are here together to wish you a very happy birthday. We miss you and we wish we could be with you on your birthday this year,’ her mom said.
‘Jen, happy birthday, girl,’ her dad added. ‘We’re very proud of you and we love you.’
Next up was Jenna’s twin sister Barbara Bush, who said: ‘Happy birthday, sissy. There is no one in the world I would rather share a birthday with.’
Later on in the video, Barbara reminisced about how ‘hilarious’ her sister was as a child, saying: ‘Jenna concocted these wild worlds that our Barbies lived in.’
Their cousin Wendy added that Jenna ‘loved playing Barbies, but more than Barbie, she loved Ken.’
Emotional: Jenna couldn’t help but cry as she watched the heartfelt video from her loved ones
The Today host’s husband Henry Hager wished her a happy birthday with their three children — Mila, seven, Poppy, five, and Hal, one
Close as can be: The video featured Jenna’s longtime friends Ferrell Fields (left) and Mia Baxter (right)
Throwbacks: Jenna has been friends with Ferrell (left) and Mia (right) for decades
Another special message came from Jenna’s husband Henry Hager and their three children — Mila, seven, Poppy, five, and Hal, one.
‘It’s your special day!’ Mila gushed, while Henry told his wife that they loved working with her in quarantine.
‘I love you, mommy, so much,’ Poppy shared.
Hal was too small to wish his mom a happy birthday, so Mila did it for him, telling Jenna: ‘Hal says hi.’
The video also featured Jenna’s friends Ferrell Fields and Mia Baxter, her aunt Dorothy Bush Koch, her cousin Sam LeBlond, and Carson Daly’s wife Siri — as well as Hoda and Today co-anchor Savannah Guthrie.
Zoom party: Today show staffers joined the celebration via video chat and could be seen on the big screen in Studio 1A
Family: Jenna also received messages from her aunt Dorothy Bush Koch (left) and cousin Sam LeBlond (right), who recalled sneaking into the White House kitchen with her to make pizza
Special: ‘It was so fun to see everybody that I haven’t gotten to see in a year — to see them here,’ Jenna said when the video ended
‘Oh, hey Jenna, I’m just here in your office picking out something for me to wear today,’ Savannah, 48, jokes. ‘Anyway, happy birthday. I love you very much.’
Hoda had a bit more of a sentimental message for their friend, saying: ‘Jenna every year on the planet Earth that you exist means that my life just got that much better.’
Jenna cried throughout the video and was so happy to see her loved ones, many of whom she hasn’t really been able to see this year.
‘Oh, that’s so sweet,’ she said. ‘How are y’all doing this to me? I wasn’t prepared. It was so fun to see everybody that I haven’t gotten to see in a year — to see them here.’
Earlier in the segment, Hoda opened up about how she had written Jenna a birthday letter on paper that she had gotten from an old ‘Steals and Deals’ segment because she didn’t have a card.
So sweet: Hoda, 56, was the first to text Jenna happy birthday, and she also wrote her a letter to mark the occasion
Hilarious: Hoda also took to Instagram to share a photo with Jenna with food in her teeth, writing: ‘Thx for making me laugh! Happy birthday Jenna’
Honored: Jenna’s Today co-star Savannah Guthrie was among those to pay tribute to her on Instagram on her birthday
Fun to be around: Savannah shared a number of photos of Jenna, including some hilarious solo shots of her friend
Tied to the hip: Not only are Jenna and Savannah coworkers, but they’re also close friends and neighbors
‘You walked in and I looked at your eyes when you were saying thanks,’ she recounted. ‘I looked at you and I thought, “Oh my god, there is a person who just appreciates me.’
Jenna explained that Hoda is incredibly thoughtful and was the first person to text her on her birthday while sharing how much she appreciated her friend’s gift.
‘She wrote me a handwritten letter, albeit it was on purple stationery that she said she got free from ‘Steals and Deals,’ but when was the last time you received a handwritten birthday card from somebody that you love,’ she said.
‘I would just say that made my morning, and so for anybody that wants to reach out to somebody, write somebody a letter because it really did — it made my day.’
Hoda also paid tribute to Jenna on Instagram, sharing a hilarious photo of her friend. with a piece of food in her teeth.
Flashback: Savannah gushed that Jenna ‘is the one you want to wear matching shirts with’
Over the years: From flower crowns to face masks, Savannah and Jenna have been friends through thick and thin
Special time: Jenna and Savannah loved taking their children trick-or-treating together pre-pandemic
Meant to be: Their kids have known each other since they were little, and they’re friends too
‘Thx for making me laugh! Happy birthday Jenna,’ she wrote.
Savannah also shared funny snapshots of herself with Jenna in honor of her big day. The two are not only co-workers, but they are also close friends and neighbors.
Some of the pictures show the two moms with their kids, who are also good friends, and in the caption, Savannah opened up about how they basically do everything together.
‘Who is she? She is the one you want to wear matching shirts with, raise your kids with, make your memories with, do your dance routines with, dress up for a party with, laugh with, cry with, laugh and cry with… the one that told you not to buy the dog sweater but you did and don’t regret it, the one you share your clothes with yes sometimes including bras… the shooting star of a soul who enthusiastically blazes through life making everything shinier and more brilliant and more light and more joyous,’ Savannah wrote.
‘She is the one that won’t hold it against you that YOU FORGOT it was her birthday today. Truth is @jennabhager you really ought to be celebrated every day anyway. Happiest Bday!!!’
Close as can be: After the show, Jenna took to Instagram to wish her sister a happy birthday. She shared photos of them through the years, starting with then they were babies
Sentimental: ‘Happy birthday to my partner since birth,’ Jenna wrote. ‘I don’t know life without this beautiful, giving gorgeous soul — and wouldn’t want to’
‘Tis the season: One photo shows them wearing matching red plaid dresses as they pose in front of a Christmas tree with their mom.
Aunt on duty: In another, Barbara has her arm wrapped around one of Jenna’s daughters
Jenna received plenty of praise on Wednesday, but she didn’t forget that it was also her sister’s birthday. After the show, she took to Instagram to share photos of herself with Barbara through the years.
In one photo, they are sleeping side by side as babies, while another shows them wearing matching red plaid dresses as they pose in front of a Christmas tree with their mom.
She also included a snapshot of them wearing matching outfits in Washington, D.C. as well as a picture of Barbara spending some quality time with her niece.
The twin ended the birthday post with a more recent picture of them together.
‘Happy birthday to my partner since birth,’ Jenna wrote. ‘I don’t know life without this beautiful, giving gorgeous soul — and wouldn’t want to.
‘I’m the luckiest to be born walking through life side-by-side with the small girl with the largest heart. I adore you @barbaritabush!’