For the first time in many years, Santa Claus will be visiting the Governor's Mansion on Christmas Eve.
Gov. Bobby Jindal and his wife, Supriya, have three little children who, like children everywhere, are counting the days until Christmas.
Six-year-old Selia is into art. She wants Santa to bring her something to make pottery. Shaan, 4, saw a picture of former Gov. Jimmie Davis and heard about his famous song "You are My Sunshine." He wants Santa to bring him a guitar.
"He's also fascinated by all kinds of things," Supriya Jindal said. "He likes toy airplanes, cars and trucks."
Baby brother Slade, 2, likes the things his big brother likes. "And they all want cameras," she said.
On Christmas Eve, after the Jindals attend church in the afternoon or early evening, they traditionally have a big family gathering with Santa, presents and dinner. This year they will celebrate in the mansion.
The extended family of at least 40 to 50 people — grandparents and cousins included — will sit down together for the traditional turkey and dressing.
Supriya Jindal's mother, Shakun Jolly, always prepares red beans and rice for Christmas Eve, and Bobby Jindal's mother, Raj Jindal, will bring several pies including everybody's favorite, her chocolate chip pecan pie.
It's easy for the Jindal children to get into the holiday spirit with every corner of the mansion decorated for Christmas. They counted nine Christmas trees including their very own in the front hall.
"We call it a recycle tree," Supriya Jindal said. The tree is decorated with old light bulbs and juice cans hand-painted by the Jindal children on the mansion grounds.
"The challenge with this project was keeping Slade from eating the paint," Supriya Jindal said with a smile.
Children from all over the state have painted ornaments for the Christmas trees as part of the first lady's project to incorporate children's artwork into the mansion displays. She sent wooden forms to the superintendents of public schools in every parish and asked them to have students decorate the ornaments in any way they pleased.
There are holiday balls, stockings, stars, Christmas trees, holly leaves and other traditional symbols done in every color of the rainbow, including several in LSU purple and gold.
"When we first came to the mansion, there was no spot for children's art, so we created a wall where work by Louisiana children can be displayed," she said. "We change the artwork every month."
This month, the wall is decorated with some of the ornaments selected by members of the Louisiana Governor's Mansion Foundation, which raises money from the private sector to refurbish and preserve the mansion and its contents.
This first Christmas at the mansion is an exciting time for the Jindal children.
"They keep asking if Santa will know they moved and which chimney he will come down," Supriya Jindal said. They are also worried about where they should leave the milk and cookies for Santa.
There are some changes to the mansion to reflect its young population, such as socket covers on the electrical outlets and a big gate on the circular stairs mainly for the sake of Slade, a very active toddler.
It's important to the Jindals that their children lead normal lives, even though they are living in the Governor's Mansion.
"They have their regular after-school activities like soccer, dancing, piano and art," Supriya Jindal said.
One day after the decorations had all been put up, the children got very quiet. When the first lady went to check on them, she found three little sets of feet coming from under the floor-to-ceiling tree in the center of the mansion foyer.
"They said they were looking at the tree from a different angle," she said with a laugh.