Laura Bush brought encouragement and holiday cheer to the Gulfport Seabee Base Monday afternoon.
The First Lady was the guest of honor at a children's Christmas party. Many of the 50 children in attendance will go through the holidays while their mom or dad is deployed overseas.
Santa Claus shared top billing at the holiday gathering. But clearly the kids were star struck by the First Lady. She praised their Christmas crafts and graciously posed for a picture with Saint Nick.
"I had lots and lots of fun. Miss Bush was really, really nice for letting me take a picture of her," said Christopher Schutz.
"It was pretty awesome. We're going to try and send some pictures to my dad," said Corrie Akins.
Mrs. Bush added her personal greeting to the letters children wrote to their deployed parents. Corrie Akins dad won't be home for the holidays, but she'll have quite a story to share when he returns.
"This is wonderful. I got to see the President's wife. It was awesome," the youngster said.
The First Lady told the children she knows how difficult it must be to have mom or dad away from home over the holidays. She shared some holiday happiness: A White House video starring her dogs, Barney and Beasley.
"I think it's a real morale booster for our troops deployed today. It's going to mean the world for them to know the First Lady took the time to come down here and greet, if not them, certainly their families and kids," said Seabee commander Eric Odderstol.
Despite deployments and ongoing hurricane recovery, Mrs. Bush says Gulf Coast parents should try their best to keep holiday traditions.
"I want to encourage families to do whatever they can to have as normal a Christmas as possible. Your children need a normal life. They take their cues from you. So, if you act like you can handle it, they'll be able to," said the First Lady.