Since 1870, the United States has officially celebrated Christmas as a nation and as a result has declared as a nation the belief in the coming of the Savior to earth. Just as the official Thanksgiving proclamations of the Presidents declare that our nation depends upon the grace and mercy of YHWH God to existclick here, the celebration of Christmas declares the nation’s faith in the manifestation of that grace and mercy in the birth of the Messiah. While Christmas is not a perfect depiction of the Word of God who became flesh, it still proclaims the Messiah. Christmas is an imperfect way of declaring a perfect message to an imperfect world.
Remarks on Lighting the National Christmas Tree
December 3, 2009
Thank you. Merry Christmas, happy holidays, Washington, DC. I want to, first of all, thank Secretary Salazar for not only the kind introduction but the extraordinary work he is doing in preserving the incredible bounty and natural resources of this country.
I want to thank all those involved in helping to organize this great event. Thank you to Randy Jackson and all the performers putting on an incredible show. I told Sasha just—we’re not on “American Idol”—[laughter]—no singing. [Laughter]
I also want to thank Neil Mulholland, Jon Jarvis, and Peggy O’Dell from the National Park Service for being with us and all the Park Service employees who’ve worked so hard to put this event together. Give them a big round of applause. And I want to thank my outstanding Vice President and his gorgeous granddaughters—Joe Biden. Stand up, Joe.
In 1923, the Washington, DC, public schools wrote a letter to the White House asking if they could put up a Christmas tree on the South Lawn. And First Lady Grace Coolidge said they could use the Ellipse. [Laughter] And in the eight decades since, in times of war and peace, hardship and joy, Americans from every corner of this Nation have gathered here to share in the holiday spirit.
Tonight we celebrate a story that is as beautiful as it is simple. The story of a child born far from home to parents guided only by faith, but who would ultimately spread a message that has endured for more than 2,000 years, that no matter who we are or where we are from, we are each called to love one another as brother and sister.
While this story may be a Christian one, its lesson is universal. It speaks to the hope we share as a people, and it represents a tradition that we celebrate as a country, a tradition that has come to represent more than any one holiday or religion, but a season of brotherhood and generosity to our fellow citizens.
It’s that spirit of unity that we must remember as we light the National Christmas Tree, a tree that will shine its light far beyond our city and our shores to every American around the world. And that’s why tonight our thoughts and prayers are with the men and women who will be spending this holiday far away from home, the mothers and fathers, the sons and daughters of our military who risk their lives every day to keep us safe. We will be thinking of you and praying for you during this holiday season.
And let’s also remember our neighbors who are struggling here at home, those who’ve lost a job or a home, a friend or a loved one, because even though it’s easy to focus on receiving at this time of year, it’s often in the simple act of giving that we find the greatest happiness.
So on behalf of Michelle and Malia and Sasha and my mother-in-law, Mama Robinson, I want to wish all of you a very Merry Christmas. May you go out with joy and be led forth in peace.
And now to the serious business of pressing the button and lighting this beautiful tree. So, guys, come up here. I need some assistance. I’m technologically challenged, and some—I might not get this right. So we’re going to do a countdown, starting from five. Everybody got to help me out here. Five, four, three, two, one—ho! It worked!
Remarks at “Christmas in Washington”
December 13, 2009
The President. Thank you very much. Thank you. Please, everybody, have a seat. Good evening, and Merry Christmas. Thank you, George Lopez. Thank you to all the incredible performers for sharing your wonderful holiday spirit with us this evening: Mary J. Blige, Neil Diamond, Sugarland, Rob Thomas, Usher, and Justin Bieber——
First Lady Michelle Obama. Bieber.
The President. Bieber—[laughter]—he was just discovered—[laughter]—the American Family Choir, and the Washington Youth Choir and the United States Army Herald Trumpets.
And to the producers and crew behind the scenes, thank you for bringing us together at this historic and beautiful National Building Museum and for bringing this celebration to our fellow Americans.
For many of your families, this is a holiday tradition, the 28th “Christmas in Washington” celebration. For our family, this is our first Christmas in the White House. And Michelle and I are honored to be with you. And I know that Malia, Sasha, and my mother-in-law, Marian Robinson, want to wish you all a wonderful holiday, and I’m sure they’re watching here at home this evening.
This season we celebrate that sacred moment, the birth of a child and the message of love He would preach to the world: That we are our brother’s keeper; that we are our sister’s keeper; that “pure in heart,” we do unto others as we would have them do unto us; that we devote ourselves to “good works”; that we are summoned to be peacemakers.
More than 2,000 years later, that spirit still inspires us. It’s why this celebration tonight benefits the Children’s National Medical Center and all the children whose lives they touch and they save. And it’s why, as so many of our fellow citizens struggle through tough times, we are called upon to help neighbors in need. And it’s why, with our men and women in uniform serving far from home in harm’s way, our fervent wish remains, this season and all seasons, let there be peace on Earth.
To all Americans, from our family to yours, Merry Christmas, and God bless you.
The President’s Weekly Address
December 24, 2009
The President. Hello, everyone, and merry Christmas. As you and your families gather to celebrate the holidays, we want to take a moment to send greetings from our family: from me, from Michelle, from Malia, Sasha, and from Bo.
The First Lady. This is our first Christmas in the White House, and we are so grateful for this extraordinary experience. Not far from here, in the Blue Room, is the official White House Christmas tree. It’s an 18-foot tall Douglas-fir from West Virginia, and it’s decorated with hundreds of ornaments designed by people and children from all over the country. Each one is a reminder of the traditions we cherish as Americans and the blessings we’re thankful for this holiday season.
The President. That’s right, especially as we continue to recover from an extraordinary recession that still has so many Americans hurting: parents without a job who struggled to put presents under the Christmas tree; families and neighbors who’ve seen their homes foreclosed; and folks wondering what the new year will bring.
But even in these tough times, there’s still so much to celebrate this Christmas: a message of peace and brotherhood that continues to inspire more than 2,000 years after Jesus’ birth; the love of family and friends; the bonds of community and country; and the character and courage of our men and women in uniform who are far from home for the holidays, away from their families, risking their lives to protect ours.
To all our soldiers, sailors, airmen, marines, and coast guardsmen: I have no greater honor than serving as your Commander in Chief. I’ve been awed by your selfless spirit, your eagerness to serve, at the Naval Academy and West Point. 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 fighting to recover, to get back to your units.
And I’ve been humbled profoundly by patriots who have made the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom, in flag-draped caskets coming home at Dover, in the quiet solitude of Arlington. And after years of multiple tours of duty, as you carry on our missions in Iraq and Afghanistan, your service, your readiness to make that same sacrifice, is an inspiration to us and to every single American.
The First Lady. And so are your families. As First Lady, one of my greatest privileges is to visit with military families across the country. I’ve met military spouses doing the parenting of two, keeping the household together, juggling play dates and soccer games, helping with homework, doing everything they can to make the kids feel okay even as they try to hide their own fears and worries.
I’ve met kids who wonder when mom or dad is coming home, grandparents and relatives who step in to care for wounded warriors, and folks trying to carry on after losing the person they loved most in the world. And through it all, these families somehow still find the time and the energy to serve their communities as well, coaching Little League, running the PTA, raising money to help those less fortunate than they are, and more.
But even these strong military families can use a hand, especially during the holidays. If you live near a military base, you can reach out through your workplaces, your schools, your churches. There are so many ways to help, with child care, with errands, or just by bringing over a home-cooked meal. Even if you don’t know a military family nearby, your family can still help by donating or volunteering at organizations that support military families.
The President. You can also reach out directly to our forces around the world. Kids can make a card that will bring a smile to an American far from home. Adults can send a care package or a prepaid phone card that makes the tour just a little bit easier. Every American can do something to support our troops, even if it’s as simple as just saying thank you. For more ways to let our troops know you care, go to http://www.whitehouse.gov.
So to all our men and women in uniform spending the holidays far away 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 in our prayers. And this holiday season—and every holiday season—know that we are doing everything in our power to make sure you can succeed in your missions and come home safe to your families.
The First Lady. And to all Americans, from our family to yours, merry Christmas.
The President. Merry Christmas, everybody.
Remarks on Lighting the National Christmas Tree
December 9, 2010
The President. Merry Christmas, everybody!
Audience members. Merry Christmas!
The President. Happy holidays. We are just thrilled to have all of you here.
Thank you, Secretary Salazar, for the kind introduction and for all that you’re doing to protect our national parks and our public lands for the future of generations. I also want to recognize Neil Mulholland and everyone at the National Park Foundation and at the National Park Service who helped put this event together.
I want to thank Pastor Darrell Morton for that wonderful invocation, and of course, thanks to Common and all of tonight’s performers for joining us here as we light the National Christmas Tree for the 88th time.
This is a very proud holiday tradition. Snow or shine, in good times and in periods of hardship, folks like you have gathered with Presidents to light our national tree. Now, it hasn’t always gone off without a hitch. On one occasion, two sheep left the safety of the nativity scene and wandered into rush-hour traffic. [Laughter] That caused some commotion. [Laughter]
Often, the ceremony itself has reflected the pain and sacrifice of the times. There were years during the Second World War when no lights were hung in order to save electricity. In the days following Pearl Harbor, Winston Churchill joined President Roosevelt to wish our Nation a happy Christmas even in such perilous days.
But without fail, each year, we have gathered here; each year we’ve come together to celebrate a story that has endured for two millennia. It’s a story that’s dear to Michelle and me as Christians, but it’s a message that’s universal: a child was born far from home to spread a simple message of love and redemption to every human being around the world.
It’s a message that says no matter who we are or where we are from, no matter the pain we endure or the wrongs we face, we are called to love one another as brothers and as sisters.
And so during a time in which we try our hardest to live with a spirit of charity and good will, we remember our brothers and sisters who have lost a job or are struggling to make ends meet. We pray for the men and women in uniform serving in Afghanistan and Iraq and in faraway places who can’t be home this holiday season. And we thank their families, who will mark this Christmas with an empty seat at the dinner table.
On behalf of Malia, Sasha, Michelle, Marian—who’s our grandmother-in-chief—[laughter]—and Bo—don’t forget Bo—I wish all of you a merry Christmas and a blessed holiday season.
And now I’m going to invite the entire Obama crew up here to help me light this Christmas tree.
All right, everybody, we’re going to count from five—five, four, three, two, one.
Remarks at “Christmas in Washington”
December 12, 2010
Thank you, everybody. Please, please have a seat. Merry Christmas and happy holidays, everybody. I want to thank our wonderful host, Ellen DeGeneres, for being here tonight. And of course, a special thanks to all of tonight’s extraordinary performers: Mariah Carey, Andrea Bocelli, Miranda Cosgrove, Annie Lennox, Maxwell, Matthew Morrison, the Washington Youth Choir, the American Family Choir, and the United States Army Band Herald Trumpets. Please give them a huge round of applause.
What a wonderful show here at the National Building Museum. And we’re grateful that the Children’s National Medical Center is the beneficiary of tonight’s performance. Day in and day out, the folks there are saving lives and bringing healing and comfort to our children.
This season reminds us that more than 2,000 years ago, a child born in a stable brought our world a redeeming gift of peace and salvation. It’s a story with a message that speaks to us to this day—that we are called to love each other as we love ourselves, that we are our brother’s keeper and our sister’s keeper and our destinies are linked.
It’s a message that guides my Christian faith, and it focuses us as we think about all those whose holidays may be a bit tougher this year. We pray for our troops serving far away from the warmth of family and homespun traditions. We remember those who are out of work or struggling just to get by. We hold in our hearts all those who’ve fallen on hard times this holiday season.
Because, while Christmas is a time to celebrate, a time to sing chorals and exchange gifts, it’s also something more. It’s a time to rediscover the meaning of words like “charity” and “compassion” and “good will,” to do our part for our neighbors, to serve God through serving others. So from our family to yours, happy holidays, everybody. Merry Christmas, and God bless you all, and God bless the United States of America. Thank you very much.
The President’s Weekly Address
December 25, 2010
The President. Merry Christmas, everybody. Michelle and I just wanted to take a moment today to send greetings from our family to yours.
The First Lady. This is one of our favorite times of year. And we’re so fortunate to be able to celebrate it together in this wonderful home.
This is the people’s house. So Barack and I try to open it to as many people as we can, especially during the holiday season.
This month, more than 100,000 Americans have passed through these halls. And the idea behind this year’s theme, “Simple Gifts,” is that the greatest blessings of all are the ones that don’t cost a thing: the comfort of spending time with loved ones, the freedoms we enjoy as Americans, and the joy we feel upon giving something of ourselves.
So in this time of family and friends and good cheer, let’s also be sure to look out for those who are less fortunate, who’ve hit a run of bad luck, or who are hungry and alone this holiday season.
The President. Because this is the season when we celebrate the simplest yet most profound gift of all: the birth of a child who devoted his life to a message of peace, love, and redemption. A message that says no matter who we are, we are called to love one another; we are our brother’s keeper, we are our sister’s keeper, our separate stories in this big and busy world are really one.
Today, we’re also thinking of those who can’t be home for the holidays, especially all our courageous countrymen serving overseas.
That’s the message I delivered when I visited our troops in Afghanistan a few weeks ago, that while you may be serving far from home, every American supports you and your families. We are with you. And I have no greater honor than serving as your Commander in Chief.
Today’s soldiers, sailors, airmen, marines, and coast guardsmen make up the finest fighting force in the history of the world. Just like their predecessors, they do extraordinary things in service to their country. What makes that all the more remarkable is that today’s military is an All-Volunteer Force, a force of mothers and fathers, sons and daughters, husbands and wives.
The First Lady. That’s right. And as First Lady, I’ve had the honor to meet members of our military and their families on bases and in communities all across the country. I’ve gotten to know husbands and wives doing the parenting of two while their spouse is on another deployment, children trying their best in school but always wondering when mom or dad is coming home, patriots putting their lives on hold to help with a loved one’s recovery or carry on the memory of a fallen hero.
When our men and women in uniform answer the call to serve, their families serve too. And they’re proud and glad to do it. But as long as that service keeps the rest of us safe, their sacrifice should also be our own. Even heroes can use a hand, especially during the holidays.
The President. So we’re encouraging Americans to ask what you can do to support our troops and their families in this holiday season. For some ideas on how to get started, just visit serve.gov.
The First Lady. You’ll see that you don’t need to be an expert in military life to give back to those who give so much to us. There are countless ways to contribute by harnessing your unique talents.
If you live near a base, you can reach out through your local school or your church. If you don’t, you can volunteer with organizations that support military families. And anybody can send a care package or prepaid calling card to the frontlines or give what’s sometimes the most important gift of all: simply saying thank you.
The President. America’s brave service men and women represent a small fraction of our population. But they and the families who await their safe return carry far more than their fair share of the burden. They’ve done everything they’ve been asked to do. They’ve been everything we’ve asked them to be. And even as we speak, many are fighting halfway around the globe, in hopes that someday our children and grandchildren won’t have to.
So let’s all remind them this holiday season that we’re thinking of them, and that America will forever be here for them, just as they’ve been there for us.
And on behalf of Michelle, Malia, Sasha——
The First Lady. ——and Bo.
The President. ——and Bo, have a very merry Christmas.
The First Lady. ——and an even happier new year.
Remarks on Lighting the National Christmas Tree
December 1, 2011
The President. It’s nice having your own band. Please have a seat, everyone. Merry Christmas! Merry Christmas!
Thank you, Secretary Salazar, for that introduction and for your hard work to preserve and protect our land and our water and our wildlife. I also want to thank Minister Rogers for the beautiful invocation, as well as Neil Mulholland and everyone at the National Park Foundation and the National Park Service who helped put this outstanding event together. I’d like to thank Carson Daly and Big Time Rush and all of tonight’s performers for joining us to kick off the holiday season here at the White House.
For 89 years, Presidents and Americans have come together to light the National Christmas Tree. And this year is a special one. This year, we have a brand new tree. The last one stood here for more than 30 years, until we lost it in a storm earlier this year. But we all know that this tradition is much larger than any single tree. And tonight, once again, we gather here not simply to light some decorations, but to honor a story that lights the world.
More than 2,000 years ago, a child was born to two faithful travelers who could find rest only in a stable, among the cattle and the sheep. But this was not just any child. Christ’s birth made the angels rejoice and attracted shepherds and kings from afar. He was a manifestation of God’s love for us. And He grew up to become a leader with a servant’s heart who taught us a message as simple as it is powerful: that we should love God and love our neighbor as ourselves.
That teaching has come to encircle the globe. It has endured for generations. And today, it lies at the heart of my Christian faith and that of millions of Americans. No matter who we are, or where we come from, or how we worship, it’s a message that can unite all of us on this holiday season.
So long as the gifts and the parties are happening, it’s important for us to keep in mind the central message of this season and keep Christ’s words not only in our thoughts, but also in our deeds. In this season of hope, let’s help those who need it most: the homeless, the hungry, the sick and shut in. In this season of plenty, let’s reach out to those who struggle to find work or provide for their families. In this season of generosity, let’s give thanks and honor to our troops and our veterans, and their families who’ve sacrificed so much for us. And let’s welcome all those who are happily coming home.
And this holiday season, let us reaffirm our commitment to each other, as family members, as neighbors, as Americans, regardless of our color or creed or faith. Let us remember that we are one and we are a family.
So on behalf of Malia and Sasha and Michelle and our grandmother-in-chief, Marian—[laughter]—I wish you all the happiest holiday season, the merriest of Christmases. God bless you all, and may God bless the United States of America.
And with that, I’m going to invite the entire Obama clan up here to light the Christmas tree. I need some help, and there’s a lot of technical aspects to this. [Laughter] Come on, guys. All right.
Okay, we’re going to start counting down here. We’ve got the switch right here.
The First Lady. All right, come on.
The President. Everybody ready? And this is the new tree. I know it’s not quite as big as the old tree, but it’s going to take time to grow. But we’re going to fill it up with some spirit and start a new tradition right now.
All right, everybody ready? We’re going to start counting down. Five, four, three, two, one—[applause]—whoa! There you go. That’s a good-looking tree. Thank you, everyone.
Remarks at “Christmas in Washington”
December 11, 2011
Good evening, everybody. I just want to start by thanking all the folks who have joined us at the National Building Museum. Let’s give it up for our host, who also happens to be the host of the best late night show on TBS, Conan O’Brien. [Laughter] And I want to thank all the spectacular artists and choirs and glee clubs who’ve made this such a spectacular evening. Please give them a big round of applause.
I want to congratulate 30 years of “Christmas in Washington.” It’s always an extraordinary honor to be a part of this event because it benefits such a special place, the Children’s National Medical Center. For so many children and their parents, the work that they do to save lives and improve care is nothing short of a miracle. And that’s fitting, because this is the season to celebrate miracles.
This is the season to celebrate the story of how, more than 2,000 ago, a child was born to two faithful travelers who could find rest only in a stable, among cattle and sheep. He was no ordinary child. He was the manifestation of God’s love. And every year we celebrate His birth because the story of Jesus Christ changed the world. For me and for millions of Americans, His story has filled our hearts and inspired our lives. It moves us to love one another, to help and serve those less fortunate, to forgive, to draw close to our families, to be grateful for all that has been given to us, to keep faith, and to hold on to an enduring hope in humanity.
Service to others, compassion to all, treating others as we wish ourselves to be treated, those values aren’t just at the center of Christianity, those are values that are shared by all faiths. So tonight let us all rededicate ourselves to each other. And in that spirit, from my family to yours, happy holidays. Merry Christmas.
God bless you all, and God bless the United States of America.
The President’s Weekly Address
December 24, 2011
The President. Hi everyone. As you gather with family and friends this weekend, Michelle, Malia, Sasha, and I, and of course Bo, want to wish you all merry Christmas and happy holidays.
The First Lady. This is such a wonderful time of year. It’s a time to honor the story of love and redemption that began 2,000 years ago, a time to see the world through a child’s eyes and rediscover the magic all around us, and a time to give thanks for the gifts that bless us every single day.
This holiday season at the White House, we wanted to show our thanks with a very special holiday tribute to some of the strongest, bravest, and most resilient members of our American family, the men and women who wear our country’s uniform and the families who support them.
The President. For many military families, the best gift this year is a simple one: welcoming a loved one back for the holidays. You see, after nearly 9 years, our war in Iraq is over. Our troops are coming home, and across America, military families are being reunited.
So let’s take a moment to give thanks for their service, for their families’ service, for our veterans’ service. And let’s say a prayer for all our troops standing post all over the world, especially our brave men and women who are in Afghanistan and serving, even as we speak, in harm’s way to protect the freedoms and security we hold so dear.
The First Lady. Our veterans, troops, and military families sacrifice so much for us. So this holiday season, let’s make sure that all of them know just how much we appreciate everything they do.
Let’s ask ourselves, “How can I give back? How can my family serve them as well as they’ve served us?” And one way you can get started is to visit joiningforces.gov to find out how you can get involved right in your own community.
The President. Giving of ourselves, service to others, that’s what this season is all about. For my family and millions of Americans, that’s what Christmas is all about. It reminds us that part of what it means to love God is to love one another—to be our brother’s keeper and our sister’s keeper. But that belief is not just at the center of our Christian faith, it’s shared by Americans of all faiths and backgrounds. It’s why so many of us, every year, volunteer our time to help those most in need, especially our hungry and our homeless.
So whatever you believe, wherever you’re from, let’s remember the spirit of service that connects us all to this season as Americans. Each of us can do our part to serve our communities and our country, not just today, but every day.
The First Lady. So from our family to yours, merry Christmas.
The President. Merry Christmas, happy holidays, happy new year, everybody.
Remarks on Lighting the National Christmas Tree
December 6, 2012
The President. Merry Christmas, everybody! Michelle told me to be brief because she wants to hear music. [Laughter]
Thank you, Secretary Salazar, for that generous introduction and for your dedication to protecting our natural resources. I want to thank Neil Mulholland and the whole National Park Foundation and the National Park Service team for helping to put on this beautiful production.
Let’s give a big hand to Neil Patrick Harris and this evening’s performers for putting on a fantastic show. And I want to also thank all of you for joining us to celebrate this great American tradition.
As has been mentioned, we’ve been lighting the National Christmas Tree for 90 years now. In times of war and peace, triumph and tragedy, we’ve always come together to rejoice in the Christmas miracle. But our tree has been having a hard time recently; this is our third one in as many years. Our longstanding tree was lost in a storm, and then its replacement didn’t take hold. It just goes to show, nobody’s job is safe here in Washington. [Laughter] But I feel good about this one. It was planted just days before Hurricane Sandy, and it made it through the storm in one piece.
Now, we know that some of our neighbors to the north saw a more ruthless and destructive Sandy. And this holiday season is especially difficult for families who lost everything in the storm. But it’s also a time for us to be grateful for the heroism and perseverance of ordinary men and women in the storm’s path who have showed us that Americans will always be stronger than the challenges that we face. And as I did before Thanksgiving, I can’t help but tell a story of their enduring holiday spirit.
This evening in Midland Beach, New York, on a street lined with houses and businesses devastated by the storm, a great big Christmas tree shines out of the darkness. Just a couple of weeks ago, as impacted families were still seeking some sense of getting back to normal, one local nursery donated the tree, another chipped in for the lights and a star, and 70-year-old Tom Killeen and his longtime buddies from the area planted it at the end of the street, overlooking the town beach. As Tom says, the tree has one message: “It’s Christmas time, not disaster time.”
And Tom’s right. For centuries, the message of Christmas, of peace and goodwill to all, has guided millions of people around the world through good times, but also through bad times. This year is no different. It’s a chance for all of us to open our hearts to the least fortunate among us. It’s a chance to remember what Christ taught us: that it is truly more blessed to give than to receive and that the simplest gifts bring the greatest joy. And it’s a chance to count our blessings and give thanks to those outstanding servicemembers who bravely defend them.
For Americans of all backgrounds and beliefs, may this holiday season remind us of the spirit of brotherhood and generosity that unites us as citizens. And may every tree from Midland Beach to this Ellipse and all across the country shine as a beacon of hope for all Americans.
So on behalf of Michelle, Malia, Sasha, Grandma, and Bo, I’d like to wish each and every one of you a very merry Christmas and a peaceful and joyful holiday season.
God bless you, and God bless America.
Remarks at Christmas in Washington
December 9, 2012
Good evening, everybody, and let’s give it up for our host –- the tallest elf I’ve ever seen –- Conan O’Brien. (Laughter and applause.) We’re also grateful to all the outstanding performers, the choirs, the glee clubs who are sharing their tremendous talents with us.
Tonight is a chance to get in the Christmas spirit; to spread some joy and sing along with artists who have much better voices than we do. (Laughter.) But it’s also a chance to make a real difference in the lives of some very brave young people being treated at Children’s National Medical Center. Many of these kids and their parents are going through tough times right now, and your support helps give them a reason to hope –- not just during the holidays, but all year round.
And that’s really what Christmas is all about. Each of us is incredibly blessed in so many ways. But those blessings aren’t just meant to be enjoyed — they’re meant to be used and shared with those who have less. The Christian faith teaches us that on this day a child was born so that we might have eternal life. And at the heart of many of the world’s great religions is the idea that we’re all better off when we treat our brothers and sisters with the same love and compassion that we want for ourselves.
So yes, tonight is about Conan and Diana Ross and Santa and all the other talented folks on this stage. But it’s also about the Americans who are spending this holiday in a hospital bed, or a shelter, or protecting our freedom on a battlefield far from home. Let’s keep them in our prayers, and follow Christ’s calling to love one another as He has loved all of us.
Merry Christmas, everybody. God bless you, and God bless these United States of America.
The President’s Weekly Address
December 22, 2012
THE PRESIDENT: Hi everybody. This weekend, as you gather with family and friends, Michelle and I want to wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy Holidays.
THE FIRST LADY: We both love this time of year. And there’s nothing quite like celebrating the holidays at the White House. It’s an incredible experience and one that we try to share with as many folks as possible.
This month, more than 90,000 people have come through the White House to see the holiday decorations. And our theme for this year’s holiday season was “Joy to All” – a reminder to appreciate the many joys of the holidays: the joy of giving…the joy of service…and, of course, the joy of homecomings.
THE PRESIDENT: That’s right. This weekend, parents are picking up their kids from college – and making room for all that laundry they bring with them. Children are counting down the hours until the grandparents arrive. And uncles, aunts and cousins are all making their way to join the family and share in the holiday spirit.
THE FIRST LADY: That’s what makes this season so special – getting to spend time with the people we love most.
THE PRESIDENT: And this year, that’s especially true for some of our military families. You see, the war in Iraq is over. The transition in Afghanistan is underway. After a decade of war, our heroes are coming home. And all across America, military families are reuniting.
So this week let’s give thanks for our veterans and their families. And let’s say a prayer for all our troops – especially those in Afghanistan – who are spending this holiday overseas, risking their lives to defend the freedoms we hold dear.
THE FIRST LADY: And remember, when our men and women in uniform answer the call to serve, their families serve right along with them. Across this country, military spouses have been raising their families all alone during those long deployments. And let’s not forget about our military kids, moving from base to base – and school to school – every few years, and stepping up to help out at home when mom or dad is away.
Our military families sacrifice so much on our behalf, and Barack and I believe that we should serve them as well as they serve this country. That’s why Dr. Jill Biden and I started Joining Forces – an effort to rally all Americans to honor and support our veterans and military families. Just go to joiningforces.gov to find out how you can show your gratitude for their service.
THE PRESIDENT: Because that’s what this season is all about. For my family and millions of Americans, it’s a time to celebrate the birth of Christ. To reflect on His life and learn from His example. Every year, we commit to love one another. To give of ourselves. To be our brother’s keeper. To be our sister’s keeper. But those ideas are not just part of our faith. They’re part of all faiths. And they unite us as Americans.
THE FIRST LADY: In this country, we take care of each other. And in this season of giving, it’s inspiring to see so many people all across America taking the time to help those most in need.
THE PRESIDENT: That’s part of what makes us such a compassionate nation. And this year, I know many of you are extending that kindness to the families who are still picking up the pieces from Hurricane Sandy and your prayers to the people of Newtown, Connecticut.
THE FIRST LADY: So thank you for all that you’ve done this year on behalf of your fellow Americans.
THE PRESIDENT: And on behalf of my favorite Americans – Michelle, Malia, Sasha and Bo – Merry Christmas, everybody.
THE FIRST LADY: Happy holidays.
Remarks on Lighting the National Christmas Tree
December 6, 2013
“For 91 years, the National Christmas Tree has stood as a beacon of light and a promise during the holiday season. During times of peace and prosperity, challenge and change, Americans have gathered around our national tree to kick off the holiday season and give thanks for everything that makes this time of year so magical — spending time with friends and family, and spreading tidings of peace and goodwill here at home and around the world.
And this year, we give a special measure of gratitude for Nelson Mandela, a man who championed that generosity of spirit. (Applause.) In his life, he blessed us with tremendous grace and unbelievable courage. And we are all privileged to live in a world touched by his goodness.
Each Christmas, we celebrate the birth of a child who came into the world with only a stable’s roof to shelter Him. But through a life of humility and the ultimate sacrifice, a life guided by faith and kindness towards others, Christ assumed a mighty voice, teaching us lessons of compassion and charity that have lasted more than two millennia. He ministered to the poor. He embraced the outcast. He healed the sick. And in Him we see a living example of scripture that we ought to love others not only through our words, but also through our deeds.
It’s a message both timeless and universal — no matter what God you pray to, or if you pray to none at all — we all have a responsibility to ourselves and to each other to make a difference that is real and lasting. We are our brother’s keeper. We are our sister’s keeper.
And so in this season of generosity, let’s reach out to those who need help the most. In this season of reflection, let’s make sure that our incredibly brave servicemembers and their families know how much we appreciate their sacrifice. And there are several military families and servicemen and women here tonight. We are so grateful to you for all that you do. (Applause.)
In this season of hope, let us come together as one people, one family to ensure that we’re doing everything we can to keep America the land of endless opportunity and boundless optimism for which we’re so thankful.
So on behalf of Malia, Sasha, Marian, the First Lady Michelle, plus Bo and Sunny, I want to wish everybody a Merry Christmas and a joyful holiday season. God bless you. God bless our troops. God bless the United States of America.”