President Trump, first lady Melania Trump light National Christmas Tree

Last Updated Nov 30, 2017 8:11 PM EST

Kicking off the holiday season, President Trump and first lady Melania Trump lit the National Christmas Tree at the White House Thursday evening.

"We want to wish everybody a merry Christmas, a happy New Year, have unbelievable holidays, and we are now going to light a very beautiful tree," Mr. Trump said. "And I'll ask our first lady to get ready and maybe we'll do a countdown from 10."

Once the tree was lit, National Christmas Tree Lighting co-hosts Kathie Lee Gifford and Dean Cain introduced festive performances from The Beach Boys, Mannheim Steamroller, and other musical artists.

The president's daughter and White House adviser Ivanka Trump, her husband Jared Kushner and their children were also in attendance, as well as Tiffany Trump and Donald Trump Jr.

white house christmas tree

President Trump and the first lady Melania Trump attend the 95th annual National Christmas Tree Lighting held by the National Park Service at the White House Ellipse in Washington, D.C., on Thu., 30, 2017.

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Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke introduced Mr. Trump.

"We pray that our country will be a place where every child knows a home filled with love, a community rich with hope and a nation blessed with faith," Mr. Trump said. "On behalf of Melania, myself, Barron, all of my children, all of my grandchildren-- they're here with us tonight-- I want to thank you, God bless you, and God bless the United States of America. Thank you very much, merry Christmas, everybody."

Wednesday evening, the president criticized those who say "Merry Christmas" in lieu of a faith-neutral holiday greeting such as "happy holidays" during a speech pushing the Republican Party's tax overhaul bill in St. Charles, Missouri.

"You don't see 'Merry Christmas' any more," Mr. Trump said. "With Trump as your president, we are going to be celebrating 'Merry Christmas' again, and it's going to be done with a big beautiful tax cut."

Earlier this week, Mrs. Trump unveiled the White House's Christmas decor, which reflects 200 years of holiday traditions. 

"The President, Barron, and I are very excited for our first Christmas in the White House," she said in a statement. "As with many families across the country, holiday traditions are very important to us. I hope when visiting the People's House this year, visitors will get a sense of being home for the holidays. On behalf of my husband and Barron, I want to wish everyone a Merry Christmas and joyous holiday season."

 

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    Blair Guild is a politics reporter and video producer for CBS News Digital.