President Obama and his family are easing into vacation mode, spending a low-key Christmas Eve out of the spotlight.
The president spent his first morning in Hawaii at a multimillion-dollar vacation home his family rents in the Kailua Beach area, near Honolulu. He skipped his standard early morning gym workout and headed to the golf course later Saturday.
First lady Michelle Obama, meanwhile, got into the Christmas spirit by helping track Santa for NORAD. The North American Aerospace Defense Command has been telling anxious children about Santa's whereabouts every year since 1955.
The White House said Mrs. Obama answered several calls from children around the country who wanted to know how close Santa was to their homes.
The Obamas were to spend Christmas Eve at home with a close circle of family and friends that typically joins the president for his annual Hawaiian vacation. They include Obama's sister, Maya Soetoro-Ng, who lives in the state with her family, and several friends the president has known since high school.
The president's annual December trip to the state where he was born and mostly raised almost didn't happen. He had planned to arrive in Hawaii on Dec. 17, but delayed his departure while Congress worked its way through a stalemate over extending payroll tax cuts.
A deal was finalized Friday morning. Hours later, the president boarded Air Force One for Hawaii to meet his wife and daughters, who traveled ahead of him.
Obama's first order of business when he arrived was taking his wife out to dinner.
The president has no public events planned in Hawaii.
The Obamas are expected to return to Washington shortly after New Year's Day.
Meanwhile, Obama wished Merry Christmas and happy holidays to all Americans in his weekly radio and Internet address, with a special message of thanks to the troops. "Let's take a moment to give thanks for their service; for their families' service; for our veterans' service," the president said.
The president was joined by his wife in recording the weekly address. Mrs. Obama added her own word of thanks, saying, "Let's make sure that all of them know just how much we appreciate everything they do."
Republicans also set aside talk of legislative and partisan battles in their weekly address, recorded by Rep. Mike Pence, R-Ind. Pence urged Americans to remember the troops and also to think of those who are less fortunate, struggling to make ends meet in the tough economy or unable to find work.