WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama and his wife Michelle sent Christmas greetings to Americans and particularly US soldiers serving abroad in a special holiday message.

As families gather for the holidays "we wanted to take a moment to send greetings from our family -- from me, from Michelle, from Malia and Sasha -- and from Bo (the dog)," the president said in a video and audio broadcast.

"This is our first Christmas in the White House, and we are so grateful for this extraordinary experience," said Michelle Obama, standing next to her husband in the video.

"To all our soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines and Coast Guardsmen -- I have no greater honor than serving as your Commander in Chief," said Obama, who on December 1 ordered another 30,000 troops to be sent to Afghanistan.

"I've been energized by your dedication to duty-from Baghdad to the Korean Peninsula. Michelle and I have been moved by your determination-wounded warriors at Walter Reed and Bethesda (military hospitals), fighting to recover, to get back to your units."

After years of warfare and multiple tours of duty, "as you carry on with our missions in Iraq and Afghanistan, your service... is an inspiration to us and to every American," he said.

Michelle Obama said one of her "greatest privileges is to visit with military families across the country," some of whom have lost loved-ones but "somehow still find the time and energy to serve their communities.

"To all Americans, from our family to yours, Merry Christmas," she said.

Obama urged Americans to visit the White House website to learn how they can help US troops deployed abroad. "Every American can do something to support our troops, even if it's as simple as just saying thank you," he said.

"So to all our men and women in uniform spending the holidays far from home-whether it's at a base here in the states, a mess hall in Iraq or a remote outpost in Afghanistan, know that you are in our thoughts and our prayers."

Obama and his family -- Michelle and daughters Sasha, eight, and Malia, 11 -- arrived in Hawaii on Thursday for a 10-day holiday vacation in the president's native state.