SOUTH LEBANON TOWNSHIP, Pa. (WHTM) — The holidays will be tough for more than 250 National Guard members about to deploy to the Middle East.
One Lebanon County soldier wanted to make sure that his family was able to get in the Christmas spirit.
The focus is often on the soldiers themselves, but Christmas Decor of Harrisburg is making sure their families know they’re supported, too.
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Christmas is the Brown family’s favorite holiday.
“I like to give everybody gifts and see everyone happy. You know, I just want all the family to be together,” said Ashley Brown.
But this year, Ashley Brown’s husband is deploying to the Middle East with the Army National Guard. It’s tough on the whole family.
“We’d normally let our Christmas lights on Thanksgiving night as a tradition as a family. My husband climbs on the roof and he does all the lights himself every single year. And unfortunately, he knew if he put them up before he left this year, I would never be able to get them back down,” Brown said.
What she didn’t know was before he left last week, Sgt. 1st Class Steven Brown contacted Christmas Decor of Harrisburg.
The family got a surprise knock on the door Sunday morning.
“It was probably one of the best knocks that we’ve gotten on the door ever,” Brown said.
After a few hours of installation and then nightfall, the Browns saw the display fully lit for the first time.
“I love it. It almost looks better than what Dad does,” Brown said.
“Not gonna lie, it kind of does,” her son Owen said.
“I just wanted to make sure this moment was special for you guys and make sure that you knew that even though I was away, that I’m still thinking about you guys and I want the Christmas spirit to live,” Steven Brown said over FaceTime.
“Thank you, sweetheart. We love it,” Ashley said.
Christmas Decor of Harrisburg’s Chief Elf Dispatcher Nikos Phelps knows it’s important to recognize not just the sacrifice of soldiers, but their families.
“I think it is really important to focus on them and that they’re also without their loved ones during the holidays,” Phelps said.
It won’t be easy having their husband and dad thousands of miles away, but the Browns can look at their Christmas display every night and smile.
For Phelps, that’s the best part of the whole process, “Just kind of seeing that genuine reaction, that genuine joy, surprise, gratefulness, and just raw emotion.”
Phelps encourages others to help out and give back to military members and their families if they can this holiday season.