The White House says Obama started the holiday on Christmas Eve by having dinner with friends, his wife and their two daughters. Obama also telephoned troops from each branch of the military who are stationed overseas for the holidays.

The White House says Obama thanked the troops for their service and the sacrifice they and their families make.

In an annual tradition, Obama and first lady Michelle Obama were to visit with troops and their families at a Marine Corps base in Hawaii late on Thursday.

The visit comes as the US marks the end of combat operations in Afghanistan.

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