Three Weatherford kids received an early “Christmas” present Friday morning.
Olivia, Parker and Austin, whose last name is Christmas, were just going through a normal end of the week, going to class and probably thinking what they were going to do for the weekend. Neither had any idea their dad, Chris, who had been deployed to Afghanistan, was going to make their weekend.
The elder Christmas, who was deployed in February with his Texas National Guard unit, arrived back in Texas Thursday afternoon. Christmas was part of a security forces team while in Afghanistan. A plan was hatched to surprise the kids at their individual schools Friday morning.
Chris Christmas first went to Curtis Elementary where Olivia, a third grader, and Parker, a fourth grader, saw their dad for the first time in nine months. Olivia, who was decked out in a Stars and Stripes blouse, said “it was exciting” to see her dad while Parker agreed and said “it was good to have my dad home.”
After a brief reunion, the family then went over to Hall Middle School where mom Tiffany teaches eighth grade history and Austin, a seventh grader, had no idea what was going to happen. Austin was brought to the school library where he saw his dad. Like most middle school students, he played it cool on the outside but was bursting with pride underneath.
His dad asked him “How ya doing?” “Better now,” Austin replied.
This isn’t the first time the family had been apart. Austin was just 5 weeks old when his dad went on a six-month deployment with the Marines to Japan. Despite having been deployed before, coming home was admittedly a bit of a shock for the soldier.
“It’s culture shock right now,” Chris Christmas, who appeared in awe of everything going on, said. “When you’re used to being over there and having a routine and then coming home, it’s tough. We’re going to make it work, though.”
Tiffany Christmas said she received help with the day to day routine of three kids and their activities from her mom. “The kids have cross country and football and cheerleading and school,” Tiffany Christmas said. “It’s been tough but OK. We muddled through with some help.”
The couple admits there will be an adjustment period as the family gets back into the “swing of things” but they vow to do so. Chris Christmas, a trooper with the Department of Public Safety, said he was unsure on when he would be returning to his full-time work but expected to be sometime after the first of the year.
After reuniting with Austin, the family took part in Hall’s Veterans Day Assembly. A fitting way to honor someone coming home.