Remarks by Governor Wolf at the Capitol Christmas Tree Lighting

December 14, 2015

Capitol Rotunda
Harrisburg, PA


What a great time of year. The holidays bring with them many of life’s best things.
It’s a time to spend time with family.
It’s a time to think about our blessings.
It’s a time to share those blessings with others.
And for those who celebrate Christmas, it’s a time to gather around a big tree.
And that’s what we’re doing here today.
Let me talk about this magnificent Christmas tree, about Christmas around Pennsylvania, and then let talk about what this tree symbolizes.

Let me start with the tree. Isn’t it beautiful?
The tree was donated by the Pennsylvania Christmas Tree Growers Association.
It is a 22-foot Douglas Fir grown by Crystal Spring Tree Farm in Lehighton, Carbon County.
We believe that the idea of the Christmas Tree began with German Lutherans in the 17th century and spread to Pennsylvania around 1820 after they began to immigrate to this area.
Since then, the Christmas Tree has been a key part of the Christmas celebration.
It’s certainly a big deal around Pennsylvania.

Here are some of the many places Christmas has a special place here in Pennsylvania:
There’s the ice skating at PPG Place in Pittsburgh or at Dilworth Park in Philadelphia.
There’s the light show at the Wanamaker Organ at Macy’s in Philadelphia.
There’s the shopping at the Christkindlmarkt in Mifflinburg
There are decorations at Candylane at Hershey Park and Longwood Gardens in Kennett Square, downtown decorations in Bethlehem, and Olde Time Christmas in Jim Thorpe.
And who doesn’t watch Pennsylvania’s own Jimmy Stewart in It’s a Wonderful Life?

This Tree reminds us of all the different ways Pennsylvanians celebrate Christmas around the state.
Finally it also reminds us of what Christmas means to so many Pennsylvanians.
It is after all a quiet and elegant symbol of the season.
It evokes the values that are central to our lives and it reminds us of the things that are best about the human condition.
It reflects the joy and happiness of this time of year.
It makes us think about life and renewal.
At a time of year when days are short and – too often – gloomy.
It reminds us of the good things in life:
Of families gathered together.
Of generous spirits.
Of precious memories of the past.
Of hope for the future.
It evokes the better angels of our nature.
It encourages us to dream about what might and could be.
It makes us glad to be human.
That’s a lot to hang on a tree and it’s a lot to hang on a season. But that’s what Christmas is all about.
And that’s what this tree is all about.
So as I light the lights on this tree — and as I’m also lighting the lights on the trees in Soldiers’ Grove and on the Third Street Steps — let’s light the spirit of Christmas in our hearts.
And shine that light on our fellow human beings.
Let’s make the generous, humane qualities we celebrate – and encourage – at this time of year a part of everything we are.
A part of everything we do throughout the year.

Merry Christmas!

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