Obamas join stars for Christmas benefit concert

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama helped ring in the holidays Sunday night with musical stars Mariah Carey, Annie Lennox and Maxwell at the annual “Christmas in Washington” concert.

The festivities, hosted by comedian Ellen DeGeneres, took place at the National Building Museum and benefited the Children’s National Medical Center.

The entertainers sang Christmas songs and performed for the Obama family — including first lady Michelle, daughters Malia, 12, and Sasha, 9, and First Grandmother Marian Robinson — in a packed auditorium.

In remarks to the crowd, Obama talked about the story of Jesus’ birth.

“The story and message speak to us today. We are called to love each other as we love ourselves,” Obama said from the stage, with his family surrounding him. He cited the tougher circumstances for many people these holidays.

“We pray for our troops. We remember those who are out of work and struggling to get by,” Obama said, urging people to show “charity, passion and goodwill” to their neighbors. “From our family to yours, happy holidays and Merry Christmas.”

Prior to the event, the Obama family offered presents from the White House to a group of young children dressed as elves, who placed them under a Christmas tree.

“Ho, ho, ho. Fantastic elves,” Obama said as the group posed for pictures.

Also performing at the benefit concert were Miranda Cosgrove, who stars in the Nickelodeon TV series “iCarly,” and Matthew Morrison, who portrays the optimistic high-school music teacher in the TV show “Glee.”

The concert will air Friday on TNT.

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