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A Bush Family Christmas * The People Who Mean Something * Royal Seasons Greetings

President and Mrs. Bush are in a celebratory mood this week — and why shouldn’t they be? — and will probably be wearing big smiles on their faces as they give and go to a series of holiday parties at the White House this weekend. On Friday, their daughters, Barbara and Jenna, who recently turned 22, are giving a casual dinner party for their friends from New York, Austin, Yale and the University of Texas amid the bedecked and bedazzling rooms of the White House. On Saturday, their parents are giving a big dinner party for family and friends and the girls will have several tables of their young pals (cocktail dresses for the ladies and dark suits for the gentleman, in case you misplaced your invitation).

This story first appeared in the December 17, 2003 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

On Sunday, Barbara and Jenna are hosting a farewell brunch for their group, who will be flying off around the world to join their own families for the holidays. Among those making the trip to Washington will be the girls’ cousin, Lauren Bush, who will then head to Palm Beach to join her mother, Sharon Bush, and her 14-year-old sister, Ashley, at The Breakers, where they will spend Christmas and New Year’s.

Other news from the Bush camp involves the quiet engagement last week of the President’s brother, Neil, to Maria Andrews, who is sitting out the election year in Paris with her three children. Neil visits her monthly and on his last trip, took her to Champagne, where they enjoyed a romantic dinner for two in one of the region’s legendary chateaus, and over a bottle of bubbly and a plate of chocolate truffles, asked her for her hand and, of course, the rest of her.

Neil’s daughter, Ashley, had just spent Thanksgiving with Daddy, Maria and Maria’s children, one of whom is the same age as Ashley. Neil told the news of the engagement to his daughter, Lauren, over dinner in New York last weekend and his ex-wife, Sharon, by phone. Their friends hope that this happy news for Neil will put an end to the tension that has placed a strain on the two Bush households. The President has told his brother that the family, including former President and Barbara Bush, will all attend the ceremony, but advisors have suggested that it take place after the election, which is very much on all the Bushes’ minds at the moment.

The Israel Philharmonic performed brilliantly at Carnegie Hall at the big benefit concert for American Friends of the Orchestra with Zubin Mehta on the podium and Itzhak Perlman making his violin sing, all to standing ovations and we-love-you applause. Lovely Lily Safra in black taffeta and red velvet was the chairman of the evening and filled two boxes with her guests, including Judy and Alfred Taubman, Cecile and Ezra Zilkha, Carroll Petrie in a lot of white fox, Linda Wachner in a lot of sable and Joan Rivers in a lot of feathers. In surrounding boxes were such as the Richard Holbrookes, the Morton Janklows, the Henry Kravises and, in the audience, such music lovers as John and Lauren Veronis, Princess Firyal of Jordan, Doda Voridis and Laura and John Pomerantz. It was a glamorous evening, all engineered by Lily personally.

For her supper after the performance at the Plaza, Lily chose the pale green velvet tablecloths, the towering crystal candleholders and centerpieces of salmon-colored roses, just what you’d expect from a woman noted for her taste. Mrs. Zubin (Nancy) Mehta, her straight blonde hair spilling on her shoulders, wore holiday red silk and a chiffon scarf embroidered with sequins. The Mehtas will be back in New York tonight for a second Philharmonic concert at Carnegie Hall.

That was Alice Mason, the Manhattan master realtor (realteuse?) wearing red sequins by Galanos and dazzling earrings from some African mine, presiding over her holiday dinner chez elle for 50-plus big shots, naturally. That’s Alice, all right. Her modus operandi — and she’s been a New York hostess for years — is to invite to her parties people who mean something because, generally speaking, she finds people who mean something are more entertaining, interesting and knowledgeable than people who don’t know much at all. You see, she would rather throw all her collection of Galanos gowns out of the window than be bored.

At her holiday table were seated such brilliant brand names as Walter Cronkite, Mike Wallace, Richard Cohen, Woody Allen, Nora Ephron and Courtney Ross, each a one-man/woman show; all together, an opinionated guided missile.

Al Gore’s bright and beautiful daughter, Karenna Gore Schiff, was there saying that since Daddy came out for Howard Dean, some of the people she sees welcome her with open arms and some of them really don’t. She can handle it. Others in the celebrating crowd were Jennet Conant and Steve Kroft; Soon-Yi Allen in a black-and-white print and sensible shoes; Betsy Cronkite; Mary Wallace; Nick Pileggi; Nan and Gay Talese; Boaz Mazor; Diahn and Tom McGrath; Serena Stewart; Drew Schiff, Helen Gurley Brown and David Brown; Connie and Randy Jones; Roz Jacobs; Mario Buatta; the model, Carmen; Mona Ackerman (she and columnist Richard Cohen make a lovely couple); Alex Donner; Diana Quasha; Gaetana Enders; Alice’s darling daughter, Dominique Richard, in a black ruffled Vera Wang, and Alice’s tiny white dog, Fluffy, showing off a red leather collar studded with diamonds — charming, but not the same kind you get from African mines.

As for Gaetana Enders, the widow of Ambassador Tom Enders, who has lived all over the world, she’s warming up a new New York apartment on the Upper East Side, having moved from still another New York apartment on the Upper East Side. It seems she wanted a change of scene and she got it. Admiring her new digs were such friends helping the warming process as United Nations Ambassador and Mrs. Negroponte, Anne Eisenhower Flottl, Ann Nitze, Patricia Patterson, Doda Voridis, Carolina and Reinaldo Herrera, the Richard Oldenburgs, Douglas Kramer, Alex Gregory, Cecile and Ezra Zilkha and Yanna Avis, who did her own warming up in the King Kong Room of the Supper Club singing sexy love songs in several languages and wearing a beaded gown à la Dietrich that lost nothing in translation.

The Princes Charles, William and Harry have chosen a shot by Mario Testino, who was Princess Diana’s favorite photographer, for the Christmas card this year. The photo shows the three princes hugging each other in a holly leaf-shaped doorway of the tree house, 30 feet off the ground, where the boys spent many of their childhood moments while growing up at Prince Charles’ country estate, Highgrove. Check your mailboxes.

Dylan Lauren, Alexandra von Furstenberg, Aerin Lauder Zinterhofer, Renee Rockefeller, Sloan Lindemann Barnett and Lauren duPont are on the committee of the Lenox Hill Neighborhood House’s Kids in Candyland, which chairmen Alex Kramer and Julie Dannenberg are hosting at the Di Modolo boutique today, to check out Circle of Love diamond necklaces and applaud as the Milanese jewelers present a generous check to help support the organization’s children’s program. How lovely of the Circle Of Love people.

Enrique Iglesias is not stopping to think it over after his recent split with his tennis playing girlfriend, Anna Kournikova. He’s now chasing top London model Alicia Rowntree, who is 19, tall, blonde and lanky, a Kournikova look-alike. Alicia’s parents own sugar plantations on the isle of Mauritius, which never hurts. The couple has already been on at least three dates that they’ve managed to work into their busy lives. Can you believe that Enrique says that a New York DJ offered him more than $1 million for that cute little mole he had removed from his cheek recently? Ick — but it turned up missing. Enrique’s sexy, but that sexy?

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