MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Christmas is a reminder of how much has changed. For the DeGier household, some of the changes are for the better. Lt. Col. Brandi DeGier, also known as mom, is back home.

She spent Christmas 2018 at Camp Arifjan, in Kuwait, while her husband, Lt. Col. Jeremy DeGier, took care of their five children while preparing for his deployment.

“I already told her we flipped to January 2019,” Jeremy said, when WCCO interviewed him on Christmas Eve 2018. “That’s just a big event because we’re in the year that mama comes home.”

When she did arrive in August 2019, Brandi says, her welcome home went better than she thought.

“I was afraid they were going to be shy and not come near me,” Brandi said. “[Two-year-old] Abigail was actually the first one. She comes running up to me and she’s like, ‘Mommy!’ and that’s where I just kind of lost it.”

The family spent the summer camping, swimming, taking nothing for granted, for their time together was short. Jeremy left in October to prepare for his third deployment.

“For me, the hardest part was trying to relearn everybody’s likes and dislikes, and find out what’s new, because things have changed,” Brandi said. “They get used to a certain routine with dad, while mom operates differently.”

The plan was for dad, Jeremy, to trade places with his wife and spend this Christmas deployed. Things don’t always go according to plan.

Jeremy’s deployment was delayed, which allowed him to spend Christmas with the family.

“It’s a blessing to be here and spend it with loved ones in our awesome community,” Jeremy said, in their Albany home.

But there’s something else — a feeling that doesn’t always get acknowledged.

“It’s proven difficult to be quite honest, to deal with all of these transitions,” Jeremy said. “To pop into military mode and then to come out of military mode to be dad and husband … it takes a lot.”

He was prepared to do a job, and had to prepare to leave his family.

“Even from my perspective, right?” said Brandi. “I understand the desire for him to be with his soldiers, so I know that there’s a struggle there.”

The finish line stands at the same place it stood three years ago. By Christmas 2020, this family will be done with all five deployments.

Christiane Cordero