Jenna Bush Hager was moved to tears by a heartfelt video message from her parents while celebrating her milestone 40th birthday one day early on the Today show Wednesday.
The former first daughter, who will be ringing in the next decade of her life with her twin sister Barbara Bush on Thanksgiving Day, was fêted with happy birthday messages and a thoughtful gift from her fourth-hour co-host Hoda Kotb.
One of the highlights of the day was the video tribute from Jenna’s parents — George W. and Laura Bush — that she watched live on the air with tissues on hand for her inevitable tears.
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Major milestone: Jenna Bush Hager celebrated her 40th birthday one day early on the Today show Wednesday
Aww! Jenna’s parents, George W. and Laura Bush, paid tribute to her and her twin sister Barbara Bush in a sweet video message that had her reaching for the tissues
‘Hey Jenna, 40 years ago today your dad and I were thrilled to welcome two baby girls into the world,’ her mom said. ‘You and Barbara have made us happy every day since. Happy birthday to you. We are so, so proud of you. Love you.’
Former President Bush followed up with a jocular message, reminding his daughter that 40 isn’t that old.
‘Yeah, Jenn, 40 years seemed like an old age, but it turns out it’s not,’ he joked. ‘You’re going great. Laura and I love you. We are very proud of you, and we wish you and your sweet sissy, Barbara, a happy birthday.’
Jenna was crying and dabbing her eyes with tissues after watching her parents’ video message, saying: It’s so sweet. All they said was happy birthday, but it’s so sweet.’
Heartwarming: Former President Bush joked that 40 ‘seemed like an old age, but it turns out it’s not,’ while his wife gushed about how happy their daughters have made them
Brought to tears: ‘It’s so sweet,’ Jenna said after watching her parents’ video message. ‘All they said was happy birthday, but it’s so sweet’
Plans: Jenna shared that she won’t be seeing her parents for Thanksgiving this year. She is spending the holiday with her husband Henry Hager’s family and her sister Barbara
She recalled how her mother gave birth to her and Barbara the day before Thanksgiving in 1981.
‘My mom said that being in the hospital having two little girls on Thanksgiving — she ate the turkey [and] she remembers the hospital turkey and stuffing — was her greatest dream,’ Jenna explained. ‘It felt appropriate for all of her dreams to come true on Thanksgiving.
‘I’m sure I made them happy every day except for the day I got arrested,’ she jokingly added. ‘That day they weren’t so happy.’
Jenna was referring to the time she and Barbara were arrested for attempting to purchase alcohol at Chuy’s, a Mexican chain restaurant, when they were underage.
So thoughtful: Jenna also shared an emotional moment with Hoda Kotb, who presented her with a four-slot picture frame featuring photos of her throughout her Today show career
Memories: The pictures include her first day on the job, the day day she was announced as the fourth our host, her first day co-hosting with Hoda, and their first live studio audience
Barbara had already been served by the time police arrived and was charged with underage possession, while Jenna was rejected for using an ID that belonged to someone else who was of legal drinking age.
The incident landed the twins, who were 19 at the time, on the cover of the weekly magazines, but the family has no problem joking about it years later.
Jenna, who has three children — Mila, eight, Poppy, six, and Hal, two — went on to open up about her Thanksgiving plans during the segment.
While she won’t be seeing her parents this year, she is spending the holiday with her husband Henry Hager’s family, her sister Barbara, Barbara’s husband Craig Coyne, and the couple’s newborn daughter Cora.
Reflection: During the segment, Jenna recalled how her mother gave birth to her and Barbara the day before Thanksgiving in 1981
Happy: ‘It felt appropriate for all of her dreams to come true on Thanksgiving,’ Jenna said of her mom
‘We celebrated [our birthday together] almost every year, so we get to do it again tomorrow,’ she said.
The birthday girl also shared an emotional moment with Hoda, who looked back on her time on the show with a video montage, including her first day on the job.
Jenna, who started out as a correspondent, replaced Kathie Lee Gifford as Hoda’s fourth-hour co-host in 2019.
‘We’ve had a beautiful time here on this show,’ Hoda said.
‘Yes, we have,’ Jenna agreed.
Fun: Jenna received messages from her celebrity friends throughout the show, including Reba McEntire, who said the ’40s are the bomb’
Hoda then presented her co-star and friend with a four-slot picture frame that featured photos of the big moments in her career: her first day on the show, the day she was announced as the fourth-hour co-host, the first show they hosted together, and the day of their first studio audience.
It was an emotional day for Jenna, who received a number of birthday messages from her celebrity friends, including Reese Witherspoon, Reba McEntire, Trisha Yearwood, and Garth Brooks.
‘I got to tell you, 40s are the bomb,’ Reba said. ‘Everything in the 40s is great. Y’all are going to have a blast. Then wait ’til you hit the 50s and then the 60s. Y’all have so much to look forward to.’
‘You are such a sunshine in our lives and I wish you a happy birthday,’ Reese added.
What a birthday: Later on in the show, Jenna was serenaded by country music star Mickey Guyton, who sang ‘Happy Birthday’ while wheeling out a three-tier cake
Shock: Jenna’s jaw dropped when she realized what was happening
Starstruck: A stunned Jenna gave the singer a hug after she started crying again
Jenna was joined by some of her closest friends later on in the show, and Hoda pulled off another surprise when it was time to bring out her cake.
Country superstar Mickey Guyton sang her ‘Happy Birthday’ while wheeling out a cart holding a massive three-tier cake and glasses of champagne.
Jenna’s jaw dropped when she realized what was happening, and she gripped Hoda’s arm while she was serenaded.
‘I’m shaking. I need kleenexes!’ she said as she started crying again. ‘The fact that you are here… I’m dead. I’m really dead.’
Earlier this week, Jenna was interviewing U2 frontman Bono when he surprised her with a celebration in Central Park in honor of her upcoming birthday.
Amazing: Earlier in the week, U2 frontman Bono surprised Jenna with a performance by the Susan E. Wagner High School band in Central Park in honor of her birthday
Cheers to that: Footage of the incredible moment was shared during her interview with the activist that aired on Wednesday
Thrilled: After the segment aired, Jenna thanked Bono and his team for the incredible surprise, saying: ‘I couldn’t believe it’
During the segment that aired on Wednesday, the iconic musician suggested that they go for a walk in the park.
‘Can we get a pint?’ he asked as they approached the restaurant Tavern on the Green. ‘Sorry, change of plans.’
Jenna was preparing for the detour when all of a sudden they were surrounded by music as the Susan E. Wagner High School band started to play.
‘Wait, what is happening here?’ Jenna asked in shock.
‘Some intentional music,’ Bono explained, adding: ‘Happy Birthday, babe.’
After the segment aired, Jenna thanked Bono and his team for the incredible surprise.
‘Am I here? Can you pinch me?’ she asked Hoda, adding: ‘I could not believe it.’