For military families, the holiday season can be especially hard if Dad or Mom is deployed and cannot get home in time for Christmas. But that didn’t stop military wife Andrea Smith, whose family is stationed at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina, from making the perfect holiday card.
Although her husband is overseas, she used a little technology and creativity to make something magical. The result? All three members of her family — Andrea, her 3-year-old daughter Charlotte, and her husband Andrew are featured. And so is Target.
That’s right. With the help of friend and professional photographer Leslie Owen, Andrea was able to take three photos and Photoshop them into one masterpiece. One was of her, sitting on the floor at Target, drinking a coffee. The other was of little Charlotte, perched atop the cart (not really, but it appears that way for comedic effect), and the third is of Dad, in his fatigues, with arms outstretched and ready to catch his daughter and keep her safe.
As explained by Today, Charlotte was never in any danger, as Mom was holding her steady for that shot to be taken (and then Leslie cropped her out). And Dad’s military buddies helped out as well, taking the picture of him and emailing it Leslie and Andrea, as the final piece of the puzzle.
Andrea was thrilled with the result, as was her daughter. “Andrea said she became so overwhelmed with emotion when she saw the final image that she cried. But her daughter had an even more memorable reaction: ‘Charlotte said, ‘Mommy, that’s all of us, even Daddy is in our card! I love it,’” Leslie shared with Today.
Question is, how did she come up with this clever idea?
“It started from wanting to include my husband in our Christmas card,” Andrea tells Babble. “After a lot of thought, we decided to come up with something that not only bring some holiday cheer to those going through a similar situation as us but also share the awareness that there are still so many military families missing their loved ones during this holiday season. I just wanted to let them know they aren’t going through this alone.”
The project was definitely worth the time and effort, and achieved exactly what Andrea had hoped it would. She tells Babble that she is amazed at the outpouring of support received since the image went viral.
“It’s unbelievable and so kind of everyone!” says Andrea. “When we created this card, it was just so we could give a little lighter, happier feel to a crappy situation (deployment through the holidays) but still have something to send to our family and friends. I never expected the outpouring of kindness, prayers, and love from everyone, including strangers!”
Andrea tells Babble that for security reasons, she cannot disclose when Andrew will be home again. And although she will not see her husband on Christmas this year, seeing her family’s card shared so widely brings her joy. It is important to honor and appreciate our service men and women year round, but saying an extra “thank you” around the holidays means a great deal to those who will be apart from their loved ones.
Thank you to Andrew Smith and to your family for your service and sacrifice. Merry Christmas, and we wish you a safe return.