Lancaster, N.Y. - A family in Lancaster celebrated Christmas about a month late, but it was well worth the wait.
Major Steve Vanaskie was supposed to return home from an eight month tour in Iraq next week.
But he was able to fly home a few days early, and arrived in Buffalo on Wednesday night.
By the time Steve got home, his kids were already asleep.
"I did not want them up because they wouldn't go to sleep, so they were all in bed and this morning he just hid out in the bedroom and they had no clue," said his wife Adele.
"I can't wait, it was hard hiding in the bedroom hearing them getting ready for school, so I'm looking forward to it," said Steve a few minutes before the surprise reunion.
The last time Steve saw his family was when he was on leave back in October, and although everyone kept in touch through Skype, you just can't hug a computer.
Six year old Ben had been doing all sorts of drawings to welcome his dad home, and nine year old Julia had helped him with the spelling.
They were expecting their dad home next Monday.
And so on Thursday at Clinton Street Elementary School, when their classes were called down to the auditorium for a special assembly, neither one of them suspected anything.
All the kids were told to sit up straight, and greet a visitor who had come a long way to see them.
And that's when Steve Vanaskie walked out on stage.
"Good morning boys and girls," he said.
Julia was absolutely stunned, and her brother had a big smile on his face.
"Hi Ben and Julia can I get a hug?" Steve asked, and with that the kids were out of their seats running toward their dad in the best surprise of their lives.