FENTON, LA (KPLC) - Most people would agree that the holiday season brings happiness and joy to family, friends and the community. But for Daniel Kibodeaux and his family, this holiday season is bittersweet. The family lost their home on December 5th after wiring in the Christmas tree started a fire.
Kibodeaux, his wife and their three children are living in a camper for the time being. But last night, the family received the surprise of a lifetime as PFC Ridge Druilhet arrived home just in time for Christmas.
"It means everything," said Druilhet's stepfather Daniel Kibodeaux. "I mean it's all the kids wanted was for Ridge to come back for Christmas. That's all they wanted. So it means a lot."
Just before the fire, Druilhet sent Christmas presents to his three younger siblings, including tents and race cars. But when he received word of the blaze, he asked for early leave. His lieutenant colonel agreed and Druilhet packed his bags to head home.
"Honestly, I feel like I'm about to wake up and be back in my tent in Afghanistan," said Druilhet. "It's going to take a little while for it to set in."
His stepfather helped with the surprise, gathering the family just before his arrival. Druilhet told his mother he would be unavailable for awhile due to a mission assignment for his unit. But at that point, the only mission on his mind was operation: surprise.
"It's very bittersweet," said Kodi Kibodeaux, Druilhet's mother. "We have a loss, but I have my son and I have my family. That's all I wanted for Christmas was my family."
And as for Druilhet's younger siblings, they couldn't be more excited to have their big brother home for Christmas.
"I was excited, because I never got to see him in a long time," said Ally Kibodeaux, Druilhet's younger sister.
"I'm going to take his hat and I'm going to stay by him," said Druilhet's younger brother Trevor.
Bubba Oustalet car dealership donated Christmas gifts to the Kibodeaux family.