Remarks on Lighting the National Christmas Tree

 

December 15, 1988

 

Merry Christmas, Joe, and a very Merry Christmas to all! Nancy and I are together with you in celebration and reflection -- celebration of the great miracle nearly 2,000 years ago that brought the Christ child to us and reflection on the great gifts He has bestowed upon us.

 

Christmas casts its glow upon us, as it does every year. And it reminds us that we need not feel lonely because we are loved, loved with the greatest love there has ever been or ever will be. In the bustle and rush of daily life, we sometimes forget how very much we have and how much we have to thank God for providing -- for things as beautiful as a winter snow or babies who will be seeing their first Christmas, seeing the wonder of its beauty in their eyes. And, yes, from the poorest among us to the most fortunate, we are all blessed.

 

 Christmas reminds us, as well, that He taught us all we need to know about caring for our fellow man and to take responsibility for the very condition of the world. Thus we must reflect: We must ever reflect upon the love we have for others and the joy we take in giving of ourselves to those who are less fortunate. From those who must depend on charity to see that their children receive a Christmas present to the tragic victims of famine and earthquake worldwide, we know what it is we must do and how ennobling an experience it is to have done it.

 

We Americans live with bounties that those who lived at the time of the Christ child's birth could never have imagined. The bounties are material, yes, but chiefly they are spiritual. Those who would worship the birth of our Lord may do so in the church of their choosing and in the way of their choosing. Those among us who do not so celebrate the birth are free to share with us in this, our time of joy. In this day, when our freedom to worship is most precious, let us redouble our efforts to bring this and other greatest freedoms to all the peoples of the Earth.

 

May we give thanks for a free America, an America united in the wonder of a season that includes not only Christmas but Hanukkah as well. And as we light this glorious tree, may Nancy and I offer a final wish to all Americans: that every Christmas that follows will be as full of joy as we have these past years to work in your service. May God bless you all. And now Nancy will help me light the tree. And again, a very Merry Christmas.

 

Note: The President spoke at 5:52 p.m. from the South Balcony of the White House during the annual Christmas Pageant of Peace. In his opening remarks, he referred to Joe Riley, president of the Pageant.