Obama lights national tree, remembers California victims

US President Barack Obama and daughters Malia and Sasha, mother-in-law Marian Robinson, first lady Michelle Obama and actress Reese Witherspoon sing from the stage during the national Christmas tree lighting ceremony near the White House in Washingto
US President Barack Obama and daughters Malia and Sasha, mother-in-law Marian Robinson, first lady Michelle Obama and actress Reese Witherspoon sing from the stage during the national Christmas tree lighting ceremony near the White House in Washington, DC on Dec 3.PHOTO: EPA
US President Barack Obama waves after lighting the National Christmas Tree on the Ellipse of the National Mall on Dec 3 in Washington, DC.
US President Barack Obama waves after lighting the National Christmas Tree on the Ellipse of the National Mall on Dec 3 in Washington, DC.PHOTO: AFP
US President Barack Obama speaks during the National Christmas Tree Lighting and Pageant of Peace ceremony near White House in Washington on Dec 3
US President Barack Obama speaks during the National Christmas Tree Lighting and Pageant of Peace ceremony near White House in Washington on Dec 3PHOTO: REUTERS
US President Barack Obama leaves after singing Christmas songs on the Ellipse of the National Mall on Dec 3 in Washington, DC.
US President Barack Obama leaves after singing Christmas songs on the Ellipse of the National Mall on Dec 3 in Washington, DC. PHOTO: AFP
First Lady Michelle Obama and Muppet Miss Piggy read "Twas the Night Before Christmas" to children after lighting the National Christmas Tree in President's Park outside the White House in Washington, DC, on Dec 3.
First Lady Michelle Obama and Muppet Miss Piggy read "Twas the Night Before Christmas" to children after lighting the National Christmas Tree in President's Park outside the White House in Washington, DC, on Dec 3. PHOTO: AFP
US President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama share a laugh with their daughters Malia (left) and Sasha (second left), and Marion Robinson (centre), Michelle Obama's mother, during the lighting of the National Christmas Tree event in Presid
US President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama share a laugh with their daughters Malia (left) and Sasha (second left), and Marion Robinson (centre), Michelle Obama's mother, during the lighting of the National Christmas Tree event in President's Park outside the White House in Washington, DC, on Dec 3. PHOTO: AFP
US President Barack Obama hugs a man dressed as Santa Claus as Muppets character Miss Piggy watches during the National Christmas Tree Lighting and Pageant of Peace ceremony on the Ellipse near the White House in Washington on Dec 3.
US President Barack Obama hugs a man dressed as Santa Claus as Muppets character Miss Piggy watches during the National Christmas Tree Lighting and Pageant of Peace ceremony on the Ellipse near the White House in Washington on Dec 3. PHOTO: REUTERS
A view of the White House and National Christmas Tree from the Ellipse of the National Mall on Dec 3 in Washington, DC.
A view of the White House and National Christmas Tree from the Ellipse of the National Mall on Dec 3 in Washington, DC. PHOTO: AFP

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - US President Barack Obama and his family led the lighting of the National Christmas Tree on Thursday, with charity, thanks, and a moment of reflection for the victims of Wednesday's shooting.

"Five, four, three, two, one. Merry Christmas, everybody!" Obama said as the national tree took sparkle for the 93rd year.

Flanked by his wife, two daughters and mother-in-law, Obama led the countdown in windy President's Park, across the street from their home at the White House, in a celebration that included performances by pop singer Aloe Blacc and rock band Fall Out Boy.

Using a moment in the festive holiday setting to address the victims of Wednesday's deadly shooting spree in California, Obama struck a more somber tone, cautioning Americans to "summon the spirit of togetherness" this holiday season.

"Now, this is, of course, the most wonderful time of the year. But we would be remiss not to take a moment to remember our fellow Americans whose hearts are heavy tonight - who grieve for loved ones, especially in San Bernardino, California," Obama said in reference to the rampage that left 14 dead and 21 wounded.

"Their loss is our loss, too, for we're all one American family. We look out for each other in good times, and in bad. And they should know that all of us care about them this holiday season," he said.