Ryan lights Capitol Christmas tree

Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanAEI names Robert Doar as new president GOP can't excommunicate King and ignore Trump playing to white supremacy and racism House vote fails to quell storm surrounding Steve King MORE (R-Wis.) lit the U.S. Capitol Christmas tree on Tuesday, remarking that he "couldn't feel more hopeful about our country than I do tonight."

"I just don’t mean that I’m optimistic, though I certainly am," Ryan said. "What I mean is, to see so many people work so hard for so long just to give our Capitol some Christmas cheer — well, it’s nothing short of inspiring."

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“Hope is not the expectation of good fortune. It is the demonstration of good will. It is the determination to do good, whatever the consequences may be," he said.

“That is the message of the Christmas story,” Ryan continued. "Christ’s birth, like this tree, is a reminder that God is always with us. We may neglect him. We may reject him. But he never forsakes us. He welcomes us back into his warm embrace."

“He lights our way. He makes straight our path. He fills every valley and brings every mountain low. We have only to accept the love he offers us. And tonight, we accept it with joy.”

Ryan’s office said the Republican leader lit the tree with Isabella Gerard, a fifth-grader from Boise, Idaho, visiting the nation’s capital.

NBC 4 Washington said Gerard was randomly selected to help Ryan light the tree due to her state’s connection to this year’s tree.

The 80-foot tree is reportedly an Engelmann Spruce harvested from the Payette National Forest near McCall, Idaho. It was sponsored by the Idaho congressional delegation led by Sen. Mike CrapoMichael (Mike) Dean CrapoSenate advances measure bucking Trump on Russia sanctions Deutsche Bank targeted by Dems over Trump ties Senators offer measure naming Saudi crown prince 'responsible' for Khashoggi slaying MORE (R).

NBC noted that the annual lighting of the Capitol tree is a tradition stretching back more than 50 years. The tree will be lit nightly through Christmas, from dusk to 11 p.m.