Forget the fiscal cliff for a moment, just 24 days away; here is one countdown all Americans love, the countdown to Christmas triggered by the Obamas near the White House lawn in Washington DC.
This was the third National tree in three years after weather damage, but it survived Hurricane Sandy. As President Obama reminded the nation, not everywhere had been so lucky:
“We know that some of our neighbours 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 perseverence of ordinary men and women in the storm’s path who showed us that Americans will always be stronger than the challenges we will face,” he said.
The tradition of lighting the national tree goes back to 1923, and is normally a more informal event where the president appears flanked with seasonal celebrities.