Christmas Tree Lighting 2021

Biden tells Americans 'we have so much ahead of us' during National Christmas Tree lighting

First lady Jill Biden joins President Joe Biden on stage as he delivers remarks during the National Christmas Tree Lighting ceremony held at the Ellipse near the White House on December 2, 2021.

Washington (CNN)President Joe Biden expressed optimism for the future of the country during the National Christmas Tree lighting ceremony on Thursday in Washington, telling the American people that "we have so much ahead of us."

"Over the course of the past 99 years, presidents have continued this great American tradition of lighting the national Christmas tree through war and peace, struggle and progress," Biden said during remarks at the event on the Ellipse near the White House. "The evergreen tree reminds us that even in the coldest days of winter that life and abundance will return. It's a bright beacon of hope, that reminds us of the promise we find in scripture of finding light in darkness."
The President expressed his and first lady Jill Biden's gratitude for American service members and their families this holiday season, adding that "we also keep in our hearts those who lost loved ones because of this virus or any other cruel twist of fate or accident."
"We pray for them to find strength from sorrow, purpose from pain. And as we look out across the country with the promise of a new year ahead, we are a great nation because of you, the American people," he continued.
"You are good people and because of you we will never be more optimistic about the future. You've made me so optimistic. I tell you what, we have so much ahead of us," the President said.
Earlier in the event, the first couple counted down the clock to light the tree on the Ellipse. Vice President Kamala Harris, second gentleman Doug Emhoff and Interior Secretary Deb Haaland were also in attendance.
LL Cool J emceed the ceremony that featured a number of musical acts, including Juanes, Billy Porter, Kristin Chenoweth, Patti LaBelle, Chris Stapleton and H.E.R.
The event is the latest evidence that the holiday season at the White House is in full swing.
The first lady received the White House Christmas tree last week -- this year, an 18-and-a-half-foot Fraser fir that hails from Peak Farms of Jefferson, North Carolina.
On Monday, the White House revealed its holiday decorations. The first lady selected a "Gifts from the Heart" theme that is more subdued than previous decorations over the years.
East Wing communications director Elizabeth Alexander told CNN earlier this week that the display is Biden's nod to tradition and carrying on with personal touchstones, even as the country feels the impact of change and loss due to the ravages of Covid-19,
On Wednesday, the first and second couples attended a Hanukkah menorah lighting ceremony inside the White House. Emhoff's attendance marked the first time there was a Jewish spouse of a US president or a vice president at the ceremony.