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Obamas spend quiet Christmas

world Updated: Dec 26, 2008 09:24 IST

US President-elect Barack Obama and his family spent a quiet Christmas on Thursday at a luxury beachfront rental home in Hawaii, in what will likely be his last retreat before his inauguration January 20.

Accompanied by wife Michelle and their daughters - Malia and Sasha - the family opened gifts in the morning and were later joined by close friends from Chicago, Marty Nesbitt, a businessman who was treasurer of his presidential campaign and physician Eric Whitaker.

The Obamas were to eat a traditional Christmas dinner of turkey and ham, and they had decorated a natural Christmas tree, Bloomberg news quoted spokesman Ben LaBolt as saying.

Obama spent much of his childhood in Hawaii and in recent years has vacationed on the island every Christmas.

His vacation has attracted a lot of attention, from locals and the swarming media. Paparazzi photographs of the bare-chested politician have been splashed across newspapers, websites and magazines around the world.

There is also much curiosity about the vacation house, which is estimated to have a market value of some $10 million and can be rented for a minimum of $3,000 a night.

On Tuesday, Obama held a private memorial service for his grandmother Madelyn Dunham, who died shortly before his historic victory in November. The president-elect and his half-sister, Maya Soetoro-Ng, scattered Dunham's ashes in the ocean after the service.