Taking a break from the worry of the weight of the nation's fiscal future on his shoulders, President Barack Obama joined his family Thursday evening for the annual lighting of the National Christmas Tree.
It was a ceremony of music and lights, tempered by thoughts of the looming fiscal cliff.
"We're actually very concerned," says Neil Mikulski, an employee of the USDA. "I'm a federal government employee and therefore that affects us as far as sequestration is concerned, and something that we hope they take care of sooner rather than later."
"I'm just worried that it's going to increase taxes on normal American citizens," says teenager Kealani Rogers, visiting from Hawaii.
One woman visiting the Ellipse from Baltimore says she's concerned about cuts in programs.
"Especially for Social Security and Medicare," says Michelle Brown. "Because my mom is about that age, so that's my main concern right now."
Jerry Lupton, a federal worker from Kitty Hawk, N.C., shared another concern.
"We were just over at the Capitol and they didn't have the flags up, so they're not in session," he says. "I made the comment they need to be in session working this thing out."
The White House and Republicans in Congress still have 25 days to reach a deal. That's the wish of many visiting the National Christmas Tree this night.