SUFFOLK -- Mary Lau had it all figured out.
Her family would gather to talk to 13News Now Anchor Joe Flanagan about what they do while missing their Sailor dad at Christmas. Her children, Anthony, Isabela, and Thomas, were there. So were "Nanny" and "Grand Nanny".
"Just do what we usually do [which is] open presents. Go to church," said 11-year-old Anthony Lau.
Then Santa showed up.
"I hear you three have had a great year, but you're missing someone, right?" asked Santa.
Santa was in on a special surprise with mom Mary. She's been a Navy wife for 19 years so as Santa stepped out for a moment, she talked about how hard deployments are on the kids.
"I think the older you get, the more you get used to them being gone and putting up a wall. But this year, [Thomas] is taking it the hardest 'cause it's harder for him," said Mary.
And then Santa returned... with a present.
"Here it comes... Close your eyes... Oh ho ho ho ho... Open your eyes!"
"DADDY! DADDY!!!" the kids screamed as their father came through the front door.
Senior Chief Luis Lau ended his Naval career this way. This was his final homecoming after nineteen years of service. Even at that moment, he was thinking of his USS Harry S. Truman shipmates.
"...I wish them the best and I wish they could be home with their families, but I know they are out there doing their job and I would probably be doing the same thing if I were out there. And just safe returns," said Senior Chief Lau.
Mary's plan worked perfectly. Santa fulfilled her holiday wish, her husband surprised the family, and the children were reunited with their dad.
"Love, love. They have a special relationship with their dad and I know it completes us [to have him home] for the holiday season," Mary said with a smile.