By Lisa Hughes

PEABODY (CBS) – It’s the best Christmas present ever. Daddy is home for the holidays.

Staff Sergeant Jose Fernandez arrived in Boston this morning from his deployment in South Korea. And for his two little daughters, a trip to see Santa turned into a Christmas surprise. Three-year-old Ilana and 1-year-old Elora thought they were going to the Northshore Mall just to see Santa. After a little nervousness, they got down to business, and when Santa asked Ilana what she wanted for Christmas, she said “Da Da.” That Christmas wish was granted as their father, Air Force Staff Sergeant Jose Fernandez magically appeared.

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Jose Fernandez surprises his daughters, Elora, 1, and Ilana, 3. (WBZ-TV)

Sgt. Fernandez has been deployed in South Korea for seven months. He got his Christmas wish, as well. “I’ve been gone a good amount for holidays, Thanksgiving, things like that. For them being young, I want to be here as much as I can,” he said. So it was an extra joyous family portrait with Santa.

“Being away from them has been extremely hard. I don’t really talk much about it. I just push through it. But seeing them again, it’s a great feeling, but it’s a bittersweet feeling because I have to leave again in a few weeks.”

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But until then, he’ll bask in the glow of his family.

“It’ll be a great Christmas. This is really all we need is just each other. This is what’s important,” said Sgt. Fernandez’s wife Sabrina.

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“I’m blessed to be able to come home this year, so next year it might not be the same luck, but next year we hope to be together again,” Sgt. Fernandez said. He’ll be home for about a month.

Lisa Hughes