US President-elect Barack Obama (with baseball cap) greets well-wishers after his workout at the Kaneohe Bay Marine Corps Base in Kailua, Hawaii, Wednesday, Dec. 24, 2008. [Agencies]
US President-elect Barack Obama offered appreciation to the country's military on Christmas Eve in a recorded message and then asked children of uniformed troops if they had their wish lists ready.
Obama and wife, Michelle, made their early morning trek to Marine Corps Base Hawaii just northeast of Honolulu as they had done during the last three days. After about an hour at the base on Wednesday where he went inside a gym for a workout, he walked over to greet more than 60 people who waited for him. The president-elect shook hands while onlookers took pictures with their cell phones and digital cameras.
"You guys got your Christmas list?" Obama asked one person standing in the makeshift ropeline. He asked another: "Hey man, what's going on?"
Earlier in the day, his aides released a recorded message of appreciation to the military "serving their second, third or even fourth tour of duty."
"This holiday season, their families celebrate with a joy that is muted knowing that a loved one is absent, and sometimes in danger," Obama said in the message, set to air Saturday morning.
Obama, his family and his close friends are spending 12 days on the island of Oahu, staying at a rented $9 million beachfront estate. Aides say that Obama would have no public events during the trip, although he has received his intelligence briefings and met with aides.
Later Wednesday, Obama played golf with friends Marty Nesbitt and Eric Whitaker, friends who are neighbors of Obama in Chicago. Aide Eugene Kang also joined them.
The Obamas during past years spent the December holidays visiting Obama's maternal grandmother, who died Nov. 2, before Obama's historic Nov. 4 victory. The Obamas on Tuesday had a private memorial service for Madelyn Payne Dunham, who helped raise him.