Mary Corrigan is extra busy this Christmas Eve. She is baking and decorating for a celebration she has waited years for.
"My son Nathan, who's been in active duty in the U.S. Army for the last four years, is home for Christmas. He hasn't been home for Christmas in four years," says Mary, a military mom.
Mary's son, 25-year-old Army Specialist Nathan Medieros, will have a lot to celebrate at home after four years and two tours of duty in Iraq.
"He's going get a lot of hugs and kisses from everybody that's here. From his grandmother, some of his uncles and cousins," says Mary.
That same joy is being felt in Fort Bragg, North Carolina where 100 troops made it home, just in time for Christmas.
Still, for thousands of other troops stationed in Iraq and elsewhere, they will make the most of a holiday away from home and family. Some will decorate a tree others will attend mass in Baghdad.
"Yeah they miss home, the family. They miss that comfort and that sense of well being," says Del Damron, a military dad.
In Los Gatos, Damron will have two empty seats at Christmas dinner. His grandson Zachary is in Korea and his son, David, is hard at work in Fort Bragg.
"It's harder. They have a place in our hearts and in our homes. Their relatives really miss them," says Damron.
It doesn't make the holidays any easier and while some families celebrate this year, others will pray that perhaps next year their soldier will be home.
"They are helping to keep us safe and keep the country safe, so we can celebrate Christmas the way we know it," says Damron.