Kindergartner Aaron Williams from Tennessee may never look at Santa Claus the same way again.
On Tuesday, the 6-year-old boy was surprised at school by his dad, a member of the U.S. Air Force who dressed as Santa Claus, white beard and all, for the surprise.
Aaron’s dad, Sr. Airman Nicholas Williams, is in the midst of a year-long deployment to South Korea. So, Aaron thought his dad wouldn’t be home for Christmas.
“He started actually crying when I told him that,” Aaron’s mom, Whitney, told local ABC affiliate WKRN, referring to how she kept the secret from her son, by telling him that his dad would not be home. “He was really upset and I felt really bad, like a horrible mother for lying to him like that.”
But all was forgiven Tuesday morning when Aaron and his peers at Lakeview Elementary gathered in the school library to be read a story by who they thought would be an elf.
When Santa appeared along with his elf sidekick, the school’s physical education teacher in costume, Aaron raised his hand first.
“He’s actually a really shy little boy so it was so sweet that he wanted to do it the most of all of them,” Tiffany Brown, the school’s assistant principal, told ABC News.
“It took him a few times of tugging on the beard and it wasn’t until it came off that he saw,” Brown said. “He stopped laughing and went into kind of awe and his first word was very clearly, ‘Daddy.'”
“There wasn’t a dry eye in the room,” she said.
Aaron’s dad has 28 days to spend at home with family before returning to South Korea through May to complete his military tour, WKRN reports.
“I couldn’t ask for really anything more than to be home for Christmas,” Williams told the station.