Two weeks ago Barack Obama and his wife Michelle showed that the White House is ready for Christmas and now the Obamas have helped their nation enter into the festive spirit. Barack, Michelle, Sasha and Malia made it a family occasion as they flicked the switch to illuminate the national Christmas tree's lights in Washington D.C. on Thursday. On the grounds of the White House, the family gathered for the tradition that dates back to 1923. As a typically relaxed affair, the newly elected President was able to make a few jokes to the assembled crowd. "Our tree has been having a hard time recently. This is our third one in as many years," he said, adding "It just goes to show, nobody's job is safe here in Washington."
Whilst the current tree's predecessor lasted just over a year, its 28-foot replica blue spruce replacement was planted just days before Superstorm Sandy and made it through the intense storm. However, the President was keen to remind the nation that not everywhere had been so lucky. Mr Obama said the season would be particularly tough on those families who had "lost everything" at the hands of the "ruthless" and "destructive" superstorm.
Keen to look to take positives from the country's reaction, the President praised the heroism shown by those affected, adding that the storm showed that "Americans will always be stronger than the challenges that we face."The 90th annual tree lighting ceremony was hosted by How I Met Your Mother star Neil Patrick Harris, who joked he would be joining the family for Christmas in Hawaii. Actor Rico Rodriguez of the TV show Modern Family also added comedy to the occasion which featured music from Jason Mraz, Colbie Caillat, James Taylor and Over My Head hitmakers The Fray. And the Obamas were not afraid to get involved, showing off their vocal skills in a rendition of the festive tune Santa Claus is Coming to Town. Before heading home with his family, President Obama wished everyone a merry Christmas and urged people to look beyond the country's current problems and enjoy the holiday. Looking at the impressive tree Obama said "This tree has one message. It’s Christmas time, not disaster time."