President Barack Obama enjoyed a quiet first Thanksgiving at the White House, telephoning U.S. servicemen and women stationed around the world and spending time in the company of his family and friends.
Obama placed calls from the Oval Office to 10 U.S. servicemen and women _ two each in the Army, Navy, Air Force, the Marines and the Coast Guard _ stationed in combat zones in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as in the Persian Gulf.
The commander in chief, who spent the past several weeks conducting an intensive review of the U.S. strategy in Afghanistan, called to wish them Happy Thanksgiving and to let them know that he and first lady Michelle Obama are "truly thankful for their service and sacrifice on behalf of the nation," according to a statement Thursday from the White House.
Obama plans next Tuesday to announce the results of that review _ a new battle plan for Afghanistan, including an increase in U.S. forces and a strategy for ending America's military involvement there. Obama promised this week to "finish the job" started eight years ago, and will lay out the course for doing so in an address to the nation Tuesday from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, N.Y.
Afghanistan, the Senate's coming debate on health care, climate change, the economy and other issues were likely to remain high on Obama's agenda during the long weekend. The president was staying in Washington, and had no public events scheduled through Sunday.
In his weekly radio and Internet address Thursday, delivered two days earlier than usual, Obama acknowledged the economic difficulties of the past year and discussed the tax cuts and other steps his administration has taken to help millions of people who are feeling pinched.
He reminded listeners that there's a lot still to be thankful for, such as the kindness of loved ones, the pride they feel in their communities and their country, and the men and women in uniform who are stationed in harm's way.
For their first Thanksgiving as America's first family, the Obamas were joined by about 50 guests, including family, friends and staff. Names were not released, but Obama's sister, Maya Soetoro-Ng, and her husband, Konrad; and Obama friends Eric Whitaker and Martin Nesbitt, attended a state dinner for India on Tuesday on the White House South Lawn.
The menu was quite extensive: turkey, honey-baked ham, cornbread stuffing, oyster stuffing, greens, macaroni and cheese, sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes and green bean casserole. Also, six kinds of pie: banana cream, pumpkin, apple, sweet potato, huckleberry and cherry.
Obama's favorite Thanksgiving dishes are turkey and pumpkin pie, according to the White House.