Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino pays traditional Christmas Eve visit to kids in Dorchester

Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino, who is recovering after spending nearly eight weeks in two hospitals with a series of ailments, paid his traditional pre-Christmas visit to the Bowdoin-Geneva section of Dorchester today.

“How are we doing? What’s happening? Who’s coming tonight?” Menino asked children who had gathered around his car today to thank him for their gifts.

“I’m feeling great. I’m as good as I’ve ever been,” he told a parent who inquired after his health, saying he had undergone “just a little setback.”

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The mayor asked one young boy what he wanted to be when he grew up. A doctor, the boy quickly replied.

“You can be anything you want to be,” Menino said. “Just stay focused.”

Asked how this holiday would be different than others, Menino quipped that he wouldn’t be doing the cooking. “I’m testing the food,” he said. “I’ll be the chief critic.”

Menino said he was happy to be out of the hospital and that being back in the neighborhoods gave him a jolt of energy.

“Like this here right now,” he said.

He seemed relaxed during a lengthy back-and-forth with reporters who came to cover the event, though he remained in his car and did not go into a church youth center where a Christmas Eve event was being held.

Menino left Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital late Sunday morning. Instead of returning to his home, he went to the historic, city-owned Parkman House on Beacon Hill, where he can use the elevator to get around while he works to regain full mobility.

Menino became ill on a trip to Italy in the fall. He cut the trip short, returned to Boston, and checked in to Brigham and Women’s Hospital, where he was intitally treated for an upper respiratory infection and a blood clot in his lung. While in the hospital, he suffered a spine fracture and an infection in the same area. Doctors also diagnosed him with Type 2 diabetes.

He was eventually transferred to Spaulding, where he worked to regain his strength.