Obama marks Christmas with gifts, carols, church

HONOLULU (AP) ? President Barack Obama exchanged gifts with his family, sang carols and attended church services as he celebrated Christmas in Hawaii.

The president and his family woke up early Sunday to exchange gifts, the White House said, then had breakfast and sang Christmas carols at the multimillion-dollar house they rent in Kailua Beach, near Honolulu.

Later in the morning, the Obamas made the short trip to the chapel at Marine Corps Base Hawaii for Christmas church services. The president dressed casually in dark khaki pants and a short-sleeve blue shirt, and his wife and daughters donned sundresses for Christmas services on a bright and breezy day on the island of Oahu.

The White House said the president and Michelle Obama would return to the base later in the day to visit with service members and their families, as they have done in past years. Many of the Marines stationed at the base have deployed to Afghanistan, as well as Iraq, where the last American troops were withdrawn earlier this month.

The president also called 10 service members stationed around the world ? two from each branch of the military ? on Christmas Eve. The White House said he thanked them for their service and the sacrifice of being away from their families at the holidays.

The Obamas planned to wrap up their Christmas festivities with dinner at the rental home with friends and family. Among those joining the first family in Hawaii are the president’s sister, Maya Soetoro-Ng, who lives on Oahu, and several friends Obama has known since high school.

The president has kept a low profile since arriving in Hawaii on Friday evening to start a vacation delayed by the stalemate in Washington over extending payroll tax cuts. He has no public events planned, and his only outings are expected to be to the golf course or to take his daughters for shave ice, a Hawaiian snow cone.

The Obamas are expected to return to Washington shortly after New Year’s Day.


Associated Press writer Jaymes Song in Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii, contributed to this report.