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Obama celebrates quiet holiday at White House

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Nov. 21, 2012: President Obama shakes hands with White House visitors after carrying on the Thanksgiving tradition of saving a turkey from the dinner table with a "presidential pardon," in the Rose Garden of the White House.AP

President Obama celebrated the Thanksgiving harvest holiday quietly at the White House with his family, friends and some White House staff members after phoning 10 members of the U.S. armed services in Afghanistan.

Obama, as has been his practice during previous holidays, reached out to service members from the Army, Air Force, Marine Corps and Navy.

"The president thanked each of them for their service and sacrifice and wished them and their families a happy Thanksgiving," the White House said.

The president was joining first lady Michelle Obama and their daughters, Sasha and Malia, later Thursday for dinner, where they were to be joined by White House staff members and guests.

The Thanksgiving dinner menu included ham, oyster stuffing and macaroni and cheese along with the traditional turkey, sweet potatoes and green bean casserole. For those with a sweet tooth, half a dozen pies, including Huckleberry, were readied.

In his weekly radio and Internet address, released in connection with the holiday, Obama urged Americans to put aside partisan differences and come together as a nation.

He said the country has "just emerged from a campaign season that was passionate, noisy and vital to our democracy."

While the election required voters to make choices, Obama said that Thanksgiving offered "a chance to put it all in perspective -- to remember that, despite our differences, we are and always will be Americans first and foremost."

In the Republican Party address, Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers of Washington state said the party is ready to work with Obama to avert impending tax increases, big spending cuts and other problems at year's end.