Festive lights cover a house on 34th St in Baltimore's Hampden neighborhood. Andy Nelson/The Christian Science Monitor/FILE
A man walks near trees illuminated with Christmas lights in Skopje, Macedonia, on Dec. 14. Ognen Teofilovski/Reuters
A child from the Romanian Jewish community attends Hanukkah services at the Great Synagogue in Bucharest, Romania, on Dec. 12. Vadim Ghirda/AP
The Vittorio Emanuele II Gallery is adorned with Christmas lights in downtown Milan, Italy, on Dec. 14. Alessandro Garofalo/Reuters
A Christmas tree made from used plastic bottles is lit in Paris, France, on Dec. 3. Four trees were lit with LED lights and were conceived by designer Fabrice Peltier. Charles Platiau/Reuters
Holiday lights illuminate Denver City/County Building in downtown Denver, Colo., on Dec. 2. The lights are turned on every night in December through New Year's Eve, and then again in January for the duration of the National Western Stock Show and Rodeo. David Zalubowski/AP
Yehuda Deri, Chief Rabbi of the southern Israeli city of Beersheba, lights a Menorah for the Jewish holiday of Hanukkah on Dec. 15. Ronen Zvulun/Reuters
A street vendor shows Christmas lights on Dec. 19 in Manila, Philippines. Pat Roque/AP
Thousands of lights and hundreds of Christmas figures are seen at the home and garden of Bernhard Nermerich in Kelkheim, Germany, on Dec. 9. Michael Probst/AP
Members of the Romanian Jewish community attend the Hanukkah religious services in Bucahrest, Romania, on Dec. 12. Vadim Ghirda/AP
People gather around the Children's Museum in San Jose, Costa Rica, on Dec. 1. The museum is decorated with more than five thousand lights during the Christmas season. Juan Carlos Ulate/Reuters
Travelers board a tram decorated with Christmas lights in Budapest, Hungary, on Dec. 9. Laszlo Balogh/Reuters
Traditional holiday decorations cover a home in Hamburg, Germany, on Dec. 1. Christian Charisius/Reuters
People walk in Alexandrovskiy Garden in St. Petersburg, Russia, on Dec. 17. Alexander Demianchuk/Reuters
Obama phoned Russia's Vladimir Putin Thursday to discuss a US proposal for resolving the Ukraine crisis. Earlier, the US moved to begin a regimen of sanctions against Russia. Will those be enough to prevent Russia's annexation of Crimea?
[Updated 9:30 p.m. ET] President Obama appealed to Russian President Vladimir Putin late Thursday, during a personal phone call, to agree to direct talks with Ukraine aimed at resolving, through diplomacy rather than military confrontation, Russia's concerns about the future direction of the Ukrainian government and of the rights of ethnic Russians living in Ukraine.