Josh spent Christmas Eve with his mother at the local mall looking at Christmas decorations and drinking hot chocolate.
After a long day, Josh was worn out from the day's activities. Before going to bed, he prayed for the health and safety of his beloved parents, David and Gail.
Josh eventually dozed off to the peaceful sounds of "O Christmas Tree."
After falling into a peaceful night of slumber, Josh felt the presence of someone in his bedroom. He opened his sleepy eyes to see his father sitting on his bed dressed in his military uniform.
David took Josh's tiny hand and held it tightly.
"Dad, what are you doing home? I thought you were in Iraq."
"I am still in Iraq, but I was granted a leave to see my little soldier for Christmas."
David told Josh how much he missed him and his mother. He also told Josh about his responsibilities as a captain in the U.S. Army Rangers. He commanded a group of loyal men and it was his job to keep them safe from harm and lead them into combat.
"Josh, I have an important message. I want you to tell your mother how much I love her and that I will always be in her heart."
Josh agreed to tell his mother.
David gave Josh a kiss on the forehead and told him to go back to sleep.
David stood up, took one last look at his son and gave him a military salute, then left.
Josh woke up looking for his father...he was nowhere to be found.
He then rushed to the stairway to deliver his father's message.
At the top of the stairway, Josh could hear his mother crying.
He saw two uniformed soldiers talking to his mother next to the Christmas tree. He couldn't hear what the soldiers were saying.
After the soldiers left, Josh went down the stairs to be greeted with a big hug from his mother.
Josh was stunned. His dad couldn't be dead. They had just spoken a few hours ago.
He didn't tell his mother about his father's visit. After all, his dad couldn't have visited last night if he died a week ago. Josh decided that his father's visit must have been a dream.
Friends and family came over to console him and his mother. Gail encouraged Josh to open his gifts but he was too sad to think about opening gifts.
Josh went back upstairs to think about his dream...it seemed so real.
He sat on his bed and began to cry as he thought about his father's memory. Josh always idolized his father for his courage and strength as a soldier.
Suddenly, Josh suddenly felt a cold breeze move throughout his room.
He got up to retrieve his robe.
After putting on his robe, he felt something in the right pocket.
It was a six inch Action figure in Army Ranger gear. The uniform matched the one worn by his father. It even had a rifle and a captain's insignia, just like his father's.
There was also a tag on the back of the action figure. It said "Merry Christmas to my little soldier, Love dad."
At that moment, Josh realized his father's visit was real.
Josh looked out the window to watch the falling snow. He remembered how much his dad loved the snow and their snowball fights.
Josh looked out the window and said "Merry Christmas, dad."