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Mother, kids reunited in time for Christmas
What does a mother tell her young children when she's being deployed in January and won't return until sometime in December?
Well, for Savanna Irizarry, her message to her 4-year-old twins Maverick and Michelle and their younger sister Myla, it was that they'd only have to wait for Santa Claus to come back to see her again.
At the time it was just a way for her to put a timeline to her deployment with the Army. But once she found out when she'd be home, she and the children's stepmother, Lauren Ashley Irey, joined forces to create a Christmas surprise for the kids.
Irey told reporter Tyler Graef that it was pretty short notice when she found out the exact date Irizarry would be home, so Irey had to scramble to get Santa Claus' visit set up.
"This was my first time to even be in the situation for doing something like this," Irizarry said. "Obviously the kids are number one, but it's fun too."
So on Dec. 3, Irey took the three children to see Santa, which caused some confusion for the twins as they'd had pictures taken with him the week before.
When Santa met them on a bridge at Jackson City Park, the first present request was for lightsabers. But after a bit of prompting from Irey they told him they wanted him to bring their mommy home.
Santa asked if they wanted an early present and told them to turn around, where Irizarry was waiting to be reunited with her kids after a challenging 11 months.
"It was incredibly overwhelming," Irizarry said of watching them turn and see her on the bridge. "They were just so excited and the looks on their faces were just priceless."
We're glad Irizarry and her family have this memory to keep with them, and hope they had a wonderful Christmas season back together. We thank you for your service and appreciate the sacrifices you and all our country's armed service members make.