WASHINGTON — Tonight, House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) lit the 2015 U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree—a  74-foot Lutz Spruce from the Chugach National Forest—with the help of fifth-grader Anna DeVolld from Soldotna, Alaska:

"Before I begin, I just want to say that we are all thinking about the current and ongoing tragedy in California today. I would like to have a brief moment of silence now for those who are affected... Please keep the victims and their families in your prayers right now.

"This is my first time hosting this ceremony. And now I can appreciate everything that went into it: 4,000 miles of travel; 2,000 handmade ornaments; hundreds of essays written by hundreds students, including our special guest, Anna DeVolld. After reading her essay, I thought to myself, 'I wish she had written my speech.' So from the architect’s team to the Forest Service to the people of Alaska to everyone here tonight, I just want to say thank you.

"You have given us a beautiful tree. And now we are here to light it. I hope it will be a reminder throughout the Christmas season—that even in the darkest of times, God is there. And He is good. And we should look for him in our lives. We should strive to do his work. We should give thanks by giving back. We should treat every day—and every person—as a gift. Nothing captures the Christmas spirit more than that overwhelming sense of gratitude. For those of us who are Christian, He gave us His only son. And for all Americans, whatever you believe, he gave us this great country.

"We have raised up this tree for all the country to see. Let it be a source of warmth in the cold, a sign of good tidings and good cheer. Let it be a light in the darkness. On behalf of my family and the entire House, I wish all of you a very merry Christmas."