David Jackson, USA TODAY
After spending most of Christmas Day with their family, President Obama and first lady Michelle Obama observed what has become one of their holiday traditions: Visiting troops and their families at Marine Corps Base Hawaii.
"This looks like it was a nice rather than naughty crowd," Obama joked to the crowd. "So I'm sure Santa treated you well."
Obama is also cutting his vacation short, planning to be back at the White House on Thursday to deal with fiscal cliff issues; his family will remain in Hawaii.
The president also told the Marines:
"Obviously, the greatest honor I have as President is being Commander-in-Chief. And the reason it's an honor is because not only do we have the finest military in the world but we also have the finest fighting men and women in the world. And so many of you make sacrifices day in, day out on behalf of our freedom, on behalf of our security.
"And not only do those in uniform make sacrifices, but I think everybody here understands the sacrifices that families make each and every day as well. And Michelle, working with Dr. Jill Biden, has done a lot of work to focus attention on our military families to make sure that you get the support that you have earned and that you deserve.
"So I'm not going to make a long speech. Obviously, we're still in a wartime footing. There are still folks, as we speak, who are overseas, especially in Afghanistan, risking their lives each and every day. Some of you may have loved ones who are deployed there. Some of you may be about to be deployed there. And so we know that it's not easy. But what we also want you to know is that you have the entire country behind you, and that all of us understand that we would be nowhere without the extraordinary service that you guys provide.
"And so we want to say thank you, we love you."