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 the LORD God to exist, the celebration of Christmas declares the nation’s faith in the manifestation of that grace and mercy in the birth of the Messiah.
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 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.”
Remarks by the President at 32nd “Christmas in Washington” Broadcast
December 15, 2013
National Building Museum
7:40 P.M. EST
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you. Well, merry Christmas, everybody! I want to thank our host, Hugh Jackman, for keeping our safety in mind and leaving Wolverine’s claws at home. (Laughter.) It can’t be easy to wrap presents with those things. (Laughter.) Good for carving the “roast beast,” though. (Laughter.)
I want to thank all the incredible performers for sharing their talents and their holiday spirit with us tonight. And we appreciate the whole team at Time Warner and the National Building Museum who make it possible for our fellow Americans to enjoy these evenings’ performances.
Every year, we mark the holiday season with celebrations and good cheer. And I should remind my girls that I like getting Christmas presents as much as anybody. (Laughter.) But this is also a time to remember the story of a child born to two faithful travelers on a holy night, long ago.
The sacred birth of Jesus Christ was God’s gift to man on Earth. And through His example, He taught us that we should love the Lord, love our neighbors, as we love ourselves. It’s a teaching that has endured for generations. And today, it lies at the heart of my faith and that of millions of Americans, and billions around the globe.
No matter who we are, or where we come from, or how we worship, it’s a message of hope and devotion that can unite all of us this holiday season. It compels all of us to reach out and help our less fortunate citizens — our poor, our sick, our neighbors in need — and to serve those who sacrifice so much on our behalf.
And that’s why tonight’s celebration benefits the Children’s National Medical Center and all the children whose lives they touch and save — including all the little elves who are here tonight.
And that’s why, with our men and women in uniform serving far from home, in harm’s way, we thank them as well and their families, and we wish — this holiday season and all seasons — for peace on Earth.
To all Americans, from our family to yours — God bless you, and have a very merry Christmas. (Applause.)
Weekly Address: The President and First Lady Wish Everyone a Happy Holiday Season 12/25/13
Remarks of President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama
The White House
December 25, 2013
THE PRESIDENT: Hello everybody, and happy holidays.
THE FIRST LADY: We know how busy this time of year is for everyone, so we’re not going to take much of your time.
But we did want to take a moment to wish you all a Merry Christmas, from our family to yours.
THE PRESIDENT: This is a season for millions of Americans to be together with family, to continue long-held holiday traditions, and to show our gratitude to those we love. And along the way, some of us might even watch a little basketball or eat some Christmas cookies, too.
THE FIRST LADY: Here at the White House, over the past few weeks, we’ve had about 70,000 people from all across the country come visit us and look at our holiday decorations.
This year’s theme was “Gather Around: Stories of the Season.”
And in every room of the house, we tried to tell a story about who we are as Americans and how we celebrate the holidays together.
And we made certain to highlight some of the most powerful stories we know – the stories of our outstanding troops, veterans, and military families and their service and sacrifice for our country.
THE PRESIDENT: Our extraordinary men and women in uniform are serving so that the rest of us can enjoy the blessings we cherish during the holidays. But that means many of our troops are far from home and far from family. They’re spending some extra time on the phone with their loved ones back home. Or they’re setting up video chats so they can watch as the presents are opened. So today, we want all of our troops to know that you’re in our thoughts and prayers this holiday season.
And here’s the good news: For many of our troops and newest veterans, this might be the first time in years that they’ve been with their families on Christmas. In fact, with the Iraq war over and the transition in Afghanistan, fewer of our men and women in uniform are deployed in harm’s way than at any time in the last decade.
THE FIRST LADY: And that’s something we all can be thankful for.
And with more and more of our troops back here at home, now it’s our turn to serve – it’s our turn to step up and show our gratitude for the military families who have given us so much.
And that’s why Jill Biden and I started our Joining Forces initiative – to rally all Americans to support our military families in ways large and small.
And again and again, we have been overwhelmed by the response we’ve gotten as folks from across the country have found new ways to give back to these families through their schools, businesses, and houses of worship.
THE PRESIDENT: That’s the same spirit of giving that connects all of us during the holidays. So many people all across the country are helping out at soup kitchens, buying gifts for children in need, or organizing food or clothing drives for their neighbors. For families like ours, that service is a chance to celebrate the birth of Christ and live out what He taught us – to love our neighbors as we would ourselves; to feed the hungry and look after the sick; to be our brother’s keeper and our sister’s keeper. And for all of us as Americans, regardless of our faith, those are values that can drive us to be better parents and friends, better neighbors and better citizens.
THE FIRST LADY: So as we look to the New Year, let’s pledge ourselves to living out those values by reaching out and lifting up those in our communities who could use a hand up.
THE PRESIDENT: So Merry Christmas, everyone. And from the two of us, as well as Malia, Sasha, Grandma, Bo…
THE FIRST LADY: And Sunny, the newest Obama.
THE PRESIDENT: We wish you all a blessed and safe holiday season.
THE FIRST LADY: Happy holidays everybody, and God bless.
Remarks by the President at National Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony December 4, 2014
THE PRESIDENT: Merry Christmas, everybody! (Applause.) We saw this party going on out back and we thought we’d join you.
I want to thank Secretary Jewell for not only the introduction but for all that you and everybody who is part of the Interior Department and the Park Service do to protect the magnificent outdoors for our children and for future generations. And I want to thank Jonathan Jarvis, Dan Wenk, and everybody at the National Park Service and the National Park Foundation for putting on this special event each and every holiday season.
I want everybody to give it up for our charming Christmas hosts tonight, Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson. (Applause.) We have so enjoyed the incredible performers, including the one and only Patti LaBelle. (Applause.) And, finally, thanks to all of you who are here and watching at home for joining us to celebrate this wonderful holiday tradition.
Back in 1923, school kids here in Washington wrote a letter to the White House asking if they could put a Christmas tree on the South Lawn. And more than 90 years and a few different evergreens later — (laughter) — the National Christmas Tree still stands as a symbol of hope and holiday spirit, and we still gather as a country each year to light it.
We still have school kids involved, too. But this year, they’ve given all the state and territory trees surrounding the National Christmas Tree their first digital upgrade. Young women from all 50 states used their computers — using their coding skills to control the colors and patterns of the lights on the trees. (Applause.) So thanks to those wonderful students. It is incredibly impressive. It’s actually one of the few things that Tom Hanks cannot do. (Laughter.)
But while lighting the tree has entered into the 21st century, the story that we remember this season dates back more than 2,000 years. It’s the story of hope –- the birth of a singular child into the simplest of circumstances -– a child who would grow up to live a life of humility, and kindness, and compassion; who traveled with a message of empathy and understanding; who taught us to care for the poor, and the marginalized, and those who are different from ourselves. And more than two millennia later, the way he lived still compels us to do our best to build a more just and tolerant and decent world.
It is a story dear to my family as Christians, but its meaning is one embraced by all peoples across our country and around the world, regardless of how they pray, or whether they pray at all. And that’s to love our neighbors as ourselves. To be one another’s keepers. To have faith in one another, and in something better around the bend. Not just at Christmastime, but all the time.
And, finally, this Christmas, we count our blessings and we give thanks to the men and women of our military who help make those blessings possible. And as we hold our loved ones tight, let’s remember the military families whose loved ones are far from home. They are our heroes, and they deserve our heartfelt gratitude and our wholehearted support. (Applause.)
So on behalf of Michelle, Malia, Sasha, mom-in-law — (laughter) — and our reindeer Bo and Sunny — (laughter) — I want to wish all of them and I want to wish all of you a very, very merry Christmas, and a holiday filled with joy.
God bless you, and God bless the United States of America.
Remarks by the President at “Christmas in Washington” December 15, 2014
THE PRESIDENT: Give it up for Santa’s biggest, baddest elf — our host, The Rock. (Applause.) Dwayne is tough as nails on the outside, but as you heard earlier, he is a big softie on the inside. Even played me once on “Saturday Night Live.” (Laughter.) You can see the resemblance. (Laughter.) I have a little more hair.
I want to thank all the incredible performers for dazzling us with their talents tonight. Give them a big round of applause. (Applause.) And we want to thank all the people behind the scenes who help make this wonderful event possible every single year.
For 33 years, “Christmas in Washington” has benefited a remarkable institution — Children’s National Medical Center. That’s where dedicated medical professionals provide world-class care to our most precious resource — our children — every single day of the year. Of course, this holiday is all about the birth of a child more than 2,000 years ago. A young soon-to-be mother and her husband of modest means traveled to Bethlehem and sought shelter for the night. They found it in a manger. And in the lowliest of surroundings a Savior was born who would change the world.
Jesus Christ lived a life of peace, of love, and kindness and forgiveness. He administered to the poor and to the sick, to the stranger and the outcast on society’s margins. His life of service teaches us that our individual salvation is wrapped up in the salvation of others. And two millennia later, it lifts the hearts of billions around the world, Christians and non-Christians alike.
In the hustle and bustle of Christmas season, may we all do our best to follow his example, to reach out to someone whose Christmas isn’t so jolly; to turn our blessings into kindness and compassion; to treat one another the way we would like to be treated. That’s the real Christmas spirit.
To all our men and women in uniform serving far from home, and to the families who miss them, we thank you for your service and sacrifice, and we’re thinking of you this holiday season. And to every American, from the Obama family to yours, Merry Christmas. God bless you, and God bless America.
Thank you very much. (Applause.)
Remarks of President Barack Obama
The White House
December 25, 2014
THE PRESIDENT: Merry Christmas everybody! Now, we’re not going to take much of your time because today is about family and being together with the ones you love. And luckily for me, that means I get a little help on the weekly address, too.
THE FIRST LADY: The holidays at the White House are such a wonderful time of year.
We fill the halls with decorations, Christmas trees, and carolers – and this year, we invited more than 65,000 people to join us.
Our theme was “A Children’s Winter Wonderland” – and Americans young and old had a chance to come together and celebrate the season.
THE PRESIDENT: And today, our family will join millions across the country in celebrating the birth of Jesus – the birth not just of a baby in a manger, but of a message that has changed the world: to reach out to the sick; the hungry; the troubled; and above all else, to love one another as we would be loved ourselves.
THE FIRST LADY: We hope that this holiday season will be a chance for us to live out that message—to bridge our differences and lift up our families, friends, and neighbors… and to reconnect with the values that bind us together.
And as a country, that also means celebrating and honoring those who have served and sacrificed for all of us—our troops, veterans, and their families.
THE PRESIDENT: In just a few days, our combat mission in Afghanistan will be over. Our longest war will come to a responsible end. And that gives us an opportunity to step back and reflect upon all that these families have given us. We’re able to gather with family and friends because our troops are willing to hug theirs goodbye and step forward to serve. After a long day, we can come home because they’re willing to leave their families and deploy. We can celebrate the holidays because they’re willing to miss their own.
THE FIRST LADY: And so, as our troops continue to transition back home—back to our businesses, our schools, our congregations, and our communities—it’s up to all of us to serve them as well as they have served us.
You can visit JoiningForces.gov to find out how you can honor and support the troops, veterans, and military families in your communities.
That’s something we can do not only during the holiday season, but all year round.
THE PRESIDENT: So Merry Christmas, everybody. May God bless you all. And we wish you and your family a happy and healthy 2015.
2015 National Christmas Tree Lighting. Presidents remarks begin at 46 minute mark
Remarks by the President at Lighting of the National Christmas Tree 12/3/2015
THE PRESIDENT: Merry Christmas everybody! Thank you, Betty, for that introduction, for your extraordinary service as one of our park rangers, and for all of your –- and your great-grandmother’s -– contributions to this country. Please give Betty a big round of applause. (Applause.) I want tips from Betty on how I can look that good at 94. (Applause.)
I also want to thank Betty’s boss, Jonathan Jarvis, and for everybody from the National Park Service and the National Park Foundation for everything that they do to protect and care for America’s great outdoors –- and for helping us “find our park” this year and every year. And thank you to Reese Witherspoon and each of tonight’s outstanding performers. (Applause.)
Now, this is, of course, the most wonderful time of the year. But we would be remiss not to take a moment to remember our fellow Americans whose hearts are heavy tonight –- who grieve for loved ones, especially in San Bernardino, California. Their loss is our loss, too, for we’re all one American family. We look out for each other in good times, and in bad. And they should know that all of us care about them this holiday season. They’re in our thoughts, they’re in our prayers, and we send them our love. (Applause.)
Now, this is the 93rd time Americans have gathered by the White House to light the National Christmas Tree. And as always, this tree is not alone -– all across America, in living rooms, and offices, churches, and town squares, families and neighbors are gathering to decorate trees of their own and get into the holiday spirit. It’s a chance to come together and to focus on what really matters –- the simple gifts of family and friends. The wonder and hope in a child’s eye. And, of course, the spirit of giving and compassion that can help all of us find new meaning in the world around us.
That’s the message of the child whose birth families like mine celebrate on Christmas -– a prince born in a stable who taught us that we should love our neighbors as ourselves; and that we are our brothers’ keeper and our sisters’ keepers; that we should feed the hungry, visit the sick, welcome the stranger. These are the lessons of Jesus Christ. But they’re also the bedrock values of all faiths –- values to be cherished and embraced not only during the holidays, but to be practiced in our daily lives.
So during this holiday season, let’s come together as brothers and sisters around the humanity that we share. Let’s reach out to those who can use a hand. Let’s summon the spirit of togetherness that’s always helped to kindle America’s shining example to the world. And let’s keep in our prayers those Americans who protect that ideal, especially those stationed far from home during the holidays. Our men and women in uniform and their families sacrifice so much for us. And it’s because of them that we can celebrate freely, that we can worship as we please, that we can come together on a night like this -– strong, and united, and free.
So on behalf of Michelle, and Malia, and Sasha, and Grandma, and Bo and Sunny, happy holiday to all of you. (Applause.) May God bless you all, and may God bless the United States of America. Thank you very much. (Applause.)
Weekly Address: Merry Christmas from the President and First Lady 12/25/2015
Remarks by the President at Lighting of the National Christmas Tree 12/1/2016
THE PRESIDENT: Merry Christmas, everybody! (Applause.) Well, thank you, Dylan, for that introduction and for all that you do for our parks down in Texas. I also want to thank Reverend Haggins for her beautiful invocation. And as we continue to celebrate the centennial of our national parks, I want to recognize our tremendous Secretary of the Interior, Sally Jewell. (Applause.) Our National Park Service Director, Jonathan Jarvis. (Applause.) And all the rangers and staff from the Park Service and the National Park Foundation –- here’s to another 100 years. (Applause.)
Let’s give it up for Eva Longoria and this star-studded group we have here performing tonight. (Applause.) Gold medalist Simone Manuel. (Applause.) Kelly Clarkson. Yolanda Adams. Garth Brooks and Trisha Yearwood. Chance the Rapper. (Applause.) The Lumineers. Marc Anthony. James and Kim Taylor. (Applause.) It’s like a Christmas edition of Lollapalooza. (Laughter.)
And this is just another example of why the holidays here at the White House are so special. Last week, I pardoned a turkey. (Laughter.) Tonight, we’re lighting the National Christmas Tree. This one is easier because a tree does not move. It does not gobble. (Laughter.) You just push a button and it’s electrified -– which is exactly what you don’t want to have happen at a turkey pardon. (Laughter.) I thought that was funny, Michelle. (Laughter.) Thankfully, both events have gone off without a hitch.
Along with celebrations like these, the holidays also offer us a time for reflection and perspective. And over these next few weeks, as we celebrate the birth of our Savior, as we retell the story of weary travelers, a star, shepherds, Magi, I hope that we also focus ourselves on the message that this child brought to this Earth some 2,000 years ago — a message that says we have to be our brother’s keepers, our sister’s keepers; that we have to reach out to each other, to forgive each other. To let the light of our good deeds shine for all. To care for the sick, and the hungry, and the downtrodden. And of course, to love one another, even our enemies, and treat one another the way we would want to be treated ourselves.
It’s a message that grounds not just my family’s Christian faith but that of Jewish Americans, Muslim Americans, non-believers — Americans of all backgrounds. It’s a message of unity and a message of decency and a message of hope that never goes out of style. And it’s one that we all need very much today.
After eight years as your President — (applause) — I still believe that there’s so much more that unites us than divides us. I’ve seen it in parents from every corner of this country just trying to give their kids a better shot. I’ve seen it in communities that come together and find common ground even in times of trial and times of tragedy. We see it in immigrants and refugees striving for that most American of ideals –- to better ourselves and our families. We see it in our troops who serve far from home during this holiday season, these outstanding men and women who go into harm’s way to protect the nation that we love and the freedoms that we hold dear -– the freedom to vote and speak out, and practice our faith as we choose; the freedom to chart our own course as citizens and as a nation.
That is the America that I’ve seen as we’ve come back from the depths of an economic crisis to an economy on the move, as we’ve recovered from wars and natural tragedies. What I’ve seen is a big-hearted and hopeful and resilient people who look out for each other and who have each other’s backs, and who find strength in our differences, and who keep moving forward knowing that we’re all in this together.
Those are our values. That is who we are. That’s who we will always be. And this is the 94th time that Americans have gathered to light our national tree. It’s the eighth and final time for our family. Before we leave tonight, I just want to express what an incredible honor it has been to serve this nation — (applause) — and to feel its warmth and to feel its generosity, and how our family has been awed by America’s goodness. And, most of all, it has been so special to share these eight years with all of you.
So on behalf of Michelle and Malia, Sasha, Grandma, Bo and Sunny — Merry Christmas, everybody. Happy holidays. May God bless you all, and may God bless these United States of America. (Applause.)
Weekly Address: Merry Christmas from the President and the First Lady 12/24/2016