One local family got a blessing many in the military never get to enjoy-Christmas with everyone together and home to celebrate at the same time.
With four sons in the military and a husband who works for Virginia State Police, Donna Roberts is never sure when her entire family is going to be together. It was not supposed to happen for Christmas this year, but then with some work from her sons all that changed.
An unexpected surprise led to sheer joy, which was caught on camera.
Adam Shropshire is one of Donna's four sons who serve his country. He was supposed to be in training, but conspired with his brothers to make this holiday whole.
"It's just that feeling of everybody's here," Donna recalled of the surprise. "Everybody's home and that's the best present ever."
It's not a present this family, along with many other military families, gets regularly. Just two years ago, brothers Stephen and Josh were deployed in Afghanistan.
"It was such an effort to try to function as normally as possible," Donna described. "I felt I didn't want to put up a Christmas tree. I didn't feel like celebrating. It's very hard when you have empty chairs. You live each day holding your breath."
Josh remembers it well from the soldier's perspective.
"That's when you really think about it, when you're sitting in your tent at nighttime trying to use what little Internet we have trying to Skype back with the family," he said. "Those are the most difficult times to see their faces and see the disappointment that you're not there."
That's why memories like this are so special. The family portrait we took for them of the rare Christmas together will be cherished for years to come.
"It's good," Adam explained. "I'm glad that everybody is here. I'm glad that we have a full dinner table."
Still, they acknowledge this year they were blessed. So parents Donna and Delmas hope what they tell their kids may also give comfort to other families who weren't as lucky.
"You're never alone," Delmas added. "God's always with you and we're always with you too."