COLORADO SPRINGS — The holidays can be a difficult time especially for those serving in the military overseas and for the family members they have to leave behind.
However, this Christmas one local family was reunited after months of being apart. Parents Zachary and Cynde Whitead surprised their daughters at school on Wednesday.
Eight-year-old Emma and five-year-old Abby hadn't seen their parents, who both serve in the Navy, for quite awhile. It had been six months since they'd seen their mom who's been serving in Afghanistan and eight months since they saw their dad who is stationed in Japan.
On Wednesday afternoon Abby, joined by Emma, was preparing for an upcoming Christmas program at school. Focused on the song and dance, the two girls were unaware of the surprise they were in for.
As their dad, Chief Petty Officer Zachary Whitead, entered the room Abby's jaw dropped and she clapped her hands over her mouth.
In a casual voice their dad said, "Hey girls...how you doing?"
The two girls ran across the classroom to meet him and embraced each other with a hug. His return wasn't the only one they had to celebrate. Whitead told his girls he had another surprise for them and at that moment their mom, Petty Officer First Class Cynde Whitead, entered the room.
A shout of "mommy!" came from the girls as they too shared a long-anticipated hug.
Cynde said, "We couldn't like talk to them on the phone because I feel like I was just going to tell them I was coming."
Zachary said, "Just wanted to get back to my kids."
His wife said, "Not being physically here with them because they go through so many changes...our oldest one got braces since so it's big milestones that we're missing unfortunately."
Beyond that Zachary said, "Having your kids in a completely different country than you are it's challenging."
But it's a surprise like this that this military family will remember and cherish for years to come.
The family shared that it will have a few weeks together before Zachary and Cynde return to work. In the meantime they say they'll be going to church and attending that school Christmas program.
We wish the family a Merry Christmas and thank them for their service.