Aaron Williams, a kindergartner from Tennessee, may never look at a Santa Claus anywhere, anytime the same way again.
The 6-year-old was surprised at his school Tuesday 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, Senior Airman Nicholas Williams, is in the middle of a year-long deployment to South Korea so Aaron thought his dad would not be home to celebrate 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,” she said.
All was perhaps forgiven Tuesday morning when Aaron and his classmates at Lakeview Elementary School in Mt. Juliet, Tenn., gathered in the school library to, they though, be read a story by an elf.
When Santa Claus appeared and the elf, the school's physical education teacher in costume, asked who wanted to pull Santa's beard, it was Aaron who, by chance, 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.
Williams will have 28 days at home with his 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.