U.S. President George W. Bush is spending a quiet Christmas with family members at Camp David, the presidential retreat outside Washington. Those sharing the celebration include his parents, several siblings and his twin daughters.
They are spending a private family Christmas in the seclusion of the mountain retreat.
There was a candlelight service in the Camp David chapel on Christmas Eve. They followed a Bush family tradition of opening gifts on Christmas morning with cups of hot chocolate and a festive meal to follow.
There were no public appearances for the president, but in his Christmas message, he sent his greetings to all those celebrating the holiday.
He said the true spirit of Christmas reflects a dedication to helping those in need, to giving hope to those in despair, and to spreading peace and understanding.
The president made special mention of members of the U.S. armed services who are serving far from home during the holiday season. On Wednesday, he talked by telephone with nine American servicemen and women deployed in Bosnia, Afghanistan, South Korea, on ships at sea and in the state of Alaska.
Aides say Mr. Bush is getting regular updates on world events during the holidays, and is monitoring developments related to Iraq and North Korea. They note he is receiving his daily briefings at Camp David and will continue to do so when he travels Thursday to his Texas ranch to mark the coming of the new year.