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Family celebrates 4 holidays in 1 joyful weekend before dad deploys

Once Al Clendennin caught onto his family's surprise, he started jumping up and down like a little boy on Christmas morning.
/ Source: TODAY

In one weekend, the Clendennins celebrated four different holidays.

The family spent the summer at home in Crestview, Florida, taking advantage of their time together, knowing Al Clendennin was going to Afghanistan for his second deployment — they just weren't sure when.

The 47-year-old, who serves in the U.S. Air Force, got the call a week before leaving Sept. 21, and his family immediately jumped into action to make sure they'd be able to celebrate all the holidays together.

The Clendennin family celebrating Halloween a month early.
The Clendennin family celebrated Halloween a month early.Courtesy of Cathy Clendennin

First up: Halloween.

While his wife, Cathy Clendennin, took him out for a massage, his three children — Alby, 16; Olivia, 15; and Owen, 13 — decorated the house, threw on costumes and had "This is Halloween" from the film "The Nightmare Before Christmas" playing when he walked in.

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It's a tradition for their grandparents to come over to watch scary movies, so that's just what the family did. This year's choice was "The Conjuring 2."

"Al was so surprised when he walked into the house," Cathy told TODAY. "He didn't catch onto what we were doing until we celebrated his birthday."

And since he's not going to be back home until early January, he'll miss celebrating his 48th birthday with his family on Dec. 22. So they sent him out for a cup of coffee and a car wash so they could quickly take down the Halloween decorations and set up a "Happy Birthday" sign.

holiday weekend deployment
Al Clendennin opened up birthday presents at home surrounded by his family.Courtesy of Cathy Clendennin

"When the cake was brought out, he started jumping up and down for joy," Cathy said.

The serviceman received a laptop to stay connected, and since the very next day was their Christmas, he received a DVD attachment to stay entertained while abroad.

While Cathy made the family's traditional Christmas breakfast — which consists of waffles, French toast and bacon — Olivia borrowed a miniature Christmas tree and decorated it with lights she had hanging in her room.

holiday weekend deployment
The serviceman looked very excited about the family's mini Christmas tree and presents.Courtesy of Cathy Clendennin

"When Al woke up and came downstairs, he was so excited — like a little boy on Christmas morning," Cathy said.

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The family wholeheartedly embraced the festive cheer, putting on ugly sweaters and opening presents as "It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year" played in the background. Along with his DVD player, Al received a heated blanket and chocolate liquor.

"He felt so bad that he didn't have any presents for us, but we told him it was enough just to all be together and celebrate," Cathy said.

She added, "Christmas is always a big deal in our house so we were most upset about not having Al home for it, but our pretend Christmas honestly felt like it was really that day."

Finally came Thanksgiving.

Holiday weekend deployment
The Clendennins Thanksgiving dinnerCourtesy of Olivia Clendennin

On this holiday, the family traditionally watches the Detroit Lions game, and they just so happened to be playing that day. So they cheered on Al's favorite team as they ate turkey and stuffing.

Holiday weekend deployment
The Clendennins enjoyed a group hug.Courtesy of Cathy Clendennin

"I'm so happy we decided to do this," Cathy said. "It's going to be a weekend we'll never forget."