President Barack Obama spent a quiet Christmas morning singing carols and opening presents with his wife and daughters as the first family offered its gratitude to military members serving in the U.S. and abroad during the holiday season.
In a recorded Christmas message released Wednesday, Obama and first lady Michelle Obama reflected on the lessons they said their family draws from the birth and life of Jesus. The president urged Americans to carry forward those lessons by volunteering at a soup kitchen, buying gifts for kids in need or organizing food and clothing drives.
In the afternoon, the president planned to visit U.S. troops and their families at nearby Marine Corps Base Hawaii in Kaneohe Bay, the White House said.
Before Christmas Eve dinner with friends and relatives Tuesday, Obama called troops from each branch of the military to extend his gratitude, the White House said. Among the troops he called were those wounded over the weekend during a mission to evacuate Americans from South Sudan. Four troops were injured in that effort, but the White House has said they are in stable condition.
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel also offered his holiday wishes to troops by phone, calling military members stationed in Afghanistan on Wednesday, the Pentagon said.
In the Republican address, Sen. Jim Risch of Idaho said America’s most-prized gifts include freedom and worship. He thanked the military for defending U.S. freedoms.