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Marine's wife finds way to include deployed husband in touching Christmas card

Staff Sgt. Andrew Smith may be far away from his wife and child during the holidays this year, but the deployed Marine is stationed just a fraction of an inch from them on the family's Christmas card.

If a holiday reunion with her husband was not in the cards, it became crucial for Andrea Smith that he still get to share a photograph with the couple's 3-year-old daughter, Charlotte.

"I would love to have him home for the holidays, and I know it’s not possible this year," she told TODAY. "But this card gives him a chance to be part of our Christmas."

While Andrew Smith had also been deployed overseas a year ago — his wife is not allowed to share his current location — he had managed to surprise Charlotte by returning home two days before Christmas.

"Charlotte kept saying, 'Santa brought you home,'" recalled the proud mom. "So when we knew he was going to be gone again this year and there was no chance he'd be back in time, my daughter told my husband, 'All I really want you to be is safe.'"

So the 28-year-old mom enlisted her friend, photographer Leslie Owen, to help put together the next best thing. It was Owen who hatched the idea to shoot mother and daughter at their favorite store, the Target near their base of Camp Lejeune in North Carolina, and to incorporate Andrew Smith in the picture through a little Photoshop magic.

The Marine was very involved in the project over email, mobilizing some help from others in his unit to photograph him in the right pose as if he were catching Charlotte as she balanced precariously from the top of a shopping cart.
     — Ethan Sacks
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