President Bush is spending a quiet Christmas vacation at a secluded mountaintop retreat, but aides say the looming showdown in the Persian Gulf is never far from his mind.

Bush celebrated Christmas with his wife, Barbara, and his children and grandchildren in the privacy of the presidential lodge at Camp David, Md. The menu for the family's Christmas dinner included turkey, sweet potatoes, green beans and pie.The White House declined to reveal other details of the presidential Christmas, apparently under orders to allow Bush a much-needed rest after the hectic months that began with Iraq's Aug. 2 invasion of Kuwait.

To keep on top of developments, Bush has been getting daily reports since arriving at Camp David on Friday for his 11-day vacation. He spends several hours working each day, spokesman Steve Hart said.

The president returns to Washington on Jan. 1, just two days before Congress, and he is expected to face some pressing questions from lawmakers regarding his intentions toward Iraq.

Two weeks later, on Jan. 15, is the deadline set by the U.N. Security Council for Iraqi withdrawal from Kuwait. The council has authorized the United States and its allies to forcibly remove Iraqi troops if they fail to withdraw from Kuwait by that date.