WASHINGTON—Tonight, the 2016 U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree was lit for the first time, with House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) and fifth-grader Isabella Gerard of Boise, Idaho doing the honors. This year’s tree—an 80-foot Engelmann spruce from Payette National Forest—will be lit every evening through Christmas night. Speaker Ryan made the following remarks prior to lighting the tree, as prepared for delivery: 

Well, in the words of Yogi Berra, at least it’s a dry rain.

Either way, this is a night to be grateful. Grateful for everyone who put this together: Stephen and his team, the forest service, the people of Idaho. And grateful for the chance to celebrate together. So I want to say to all of you—whatever you did to make this happen—thank you very, very much.

Not to get too carried away, but I couldn’t feel more hopeful about our country than I do tonight. And by that I don’t mean just that I’m optimistic, though I certainly am. What I mean is, to see so many people work so hard for so long just to give our Capitol some Christmas cheer—well, it’s nothing short of inspiring.

Hope is not the expectation of good fortune. It is the demonstration of good will. It is the determination to do good, whatever the consequences may be.

That is the message of the Christmas story. Christ’s birth, like this tree, is a reminder that God is always with us. We may neglect him. We may reject him. But he never forsakes us. He always welcomes us back into his warm embrace. He lights our way. He makes straight our path. He fills every valley and brings every mountain low. We have only to accept the love he offers us.

And tonight, we accept it with joy.

Merry Christmas, everybody.

 

A photo posted by Speaker Paul Ryan (@speakerryan) on

Dec 6, 2016 at 4:22pm PST