Mylee Maxwell got the best Christmas gift ever Tuesday night when her father, Brandon, who has been stationed overseas with the Army, surprised her at the Deputy Elementary School Christmas program. Brandon Maxwell is holding Thea, 3-months, who was born while he was away, and mom, Kelsey, is holding Jaxon, 2. (Staff photo by Brett Eppley/beppley@madisoncourier.com)
Mylee Maxwell got the best Christmas gift ever Tuesday night when her father, Brandon, who has been stationed overseas with the Army, surprised her at the Deputy Elementary School Christmas program. Brandon Maxwell is holding Thea, 3-months, who was born while he was away, and mom, Kelsey, is holding Jaxon, 2. (Staff photo by Brett Eppley/beppley@madisoncourier.com)
Tuesday night’s Christmas program at Deputy Elementary School was magical for one third-grade student who received the best kind of surprise.

Mylee Maxwell was asked to open the program with a special introduction on stage. Along with a short welcome to the show, the 8-year-old sang an original song dedicated to her father stationed overseas with the Army.

Little did Mylee know, her dad was standing right next to her as she sang.

After seven months away, Mylee’s father, Specialist Brandon Maxwell, returned home for the holidays.

Kelsey Maxwell, Brandon’s wife and mother to Mylee, Jaxon, 2 and Thea, 3 months, knew her husband would be coming home and agreed to orchestrate a surprise after a teacher at the school suggested surprising Mylee.

“Miss McCreary reached out to me. She asked when he was coming home and I told her that it was today, and she was like ‘Oh, that’s our Christmas program. Let’s do something,’ ” Kelsey said.

And so, Brandon made his way through the gymnasium Tuesday night wearing the school’s panther mascot costume. In head-to-toe black fur, Brandon said, it was hot. Plus, he wasn’t so keen on sharing the moment with a crowd at first, but in the end, he said he enjoyed it.

After wrapping up her song, Mylee was handed an oversized gift tag signed by her father. As the panther leaned in closer, the picture became clearer to Mylee.

“Daddy!” she said just as the panther head came off revealing her father’s smile.

While he’s home on break, Brandon said he looks forward to giving his wife a little respite from the daily ins and outs raising three children, getting to and from archery practice and more.

““She’ll get the break more than I will,” he said.

“All that stuff that both couples are supposed to split down the middle, she’s done it all on her own,” he said.

And though he’ll be headed back to his Army duties for another five months after this, Maxwell is appreciative of the time he’s got for the holiday.

“It means a lot. One, I had a child while I was gone, so coming home to get to meet her was a big deal. And taking that break from all the work that we’re doing over there – to get to come over here and spend two weeks on just relaxing with your family – it’s a great gift.”