North Platte, Nebraska had a flood of tears at the Platte River Mall – happy tears, that is. 

Celebrating Christmas was going to be bittersweet for the Ross family. Seven months ago, their father was deployed to South Korea with the U.S. Air Force. He still has months to go on his assignment. 

However, Staff Sergeant Jacob Ross was able to take leave to be home for Christmas. He wanted to surprise his girls with an extra-special homecoming memory.

Once arrangements were made for the trip home, the fun of planning the surprise started. 

Cassie Condon, property manager at the mall, stated the mall’s Santa came in to her office several weeks ago to make the request. 

“He wanted my permission to hide their dad behind the sleigh. All I could say was ‘We need to make this happen. Whatever it takes,'” Condon stated.

And happen it did, right around 5 pm on December 16th. Alleasha, Jacob’s wife, drove to McCook to pick him up after his flights while the girls spent time with their grandmother. Even the weather wanted the reunion to happen. Despite icy weather conditions in eastern Nebraska, the travel conditions to Denver, McCook, and North Platte remained dry and easy to navigate. 

Aurora and Rylinn didn’t suspect a thing. They got dressed up for their pictures with Santa and went to the Platte River Mall in North Platte for their lap time. 

Condon stated “Everything went so well. Even the Christmas music we have randomly playing cooperated. The song ‘I’ll Be Home For Christmas’ was playing in the background. I couldn’t have planned it better.”

Rylinn didn’t hesitate when Santa asked what she wanted. “Can you bring my Daddy home?”

Santa said he’d do his best to honor their requests, and then noted “I think the elves sent me something special in the sleigh.”

Aurora noticed a person sneaking out from behind the sleigh. With a gasp, she jumps off Santa’s lap, and Rylinn is right there with her. 

Ah, you know what? Watch the video, and have a box of Kleenexes handy.

Feature image via Platte River Mall Facebook Page

Jessica McCaslin

Jessica is a Stay-At-Home-Master-Mom who is learning to cope with the daily challenges of being a full-time parent. She graduated with her Master's degree in community counseling from the University of Nebraska at Kearney in 2005. Jessica joined Family Resources of Greater Nebraska in January 2012. She worked with children, adolescents, adults and families in and around Broken Bow, NE. Her attention has now turned to raising her children while doing online work for Family Resources of Greater Nebraska. She loves horses and has attended several Level 1 Equine-Assisted Growth and Learning trainings, where horses are used as a co-therapist for mental health issues. It's a dream to someday be able to incorporate horses into her therapy sessions. She resides near North Platte with her husband and children.