Having a loved one fighting overseas is difficult for anybody. For a child, however, it can be particularly traumatic.
In 2010, the National Center for Children in Poverty published a report titled “Trauma Faced by Children of Military Families: What Every Policymaker Should Know.” In the report, authors stated: “After nearly a decade of war, a growing area of research shows the negative impact on children, youth and families of U.S. military personnel.”
The report has a ton of statistics, but the impact deployments can have on a child’s mental health aren’t particularly shocking; changes in school performance, lashing out in anger, worrying, and symptoms of depression were all reported by military parents in regards to their kids. Across children of all ages, high levels of sadness are common.
Sadness was what little Kensley Penney was experiencing while her father Sergeant Scott Penney had been deployed in Afghanistan for the past 9 months.
The adorable, three-year-0ld girl did not understand why her Daddy was gone, but she did know she needed him back ASAP. Although Scott had left when Kensley was only two years old, her family had done everything possible to make sure he was still a part of the little girl’s life. In an interview with WXII 12 News, Kensley’s mother explained: “There’s pictures all over our house, and like I said, she has her Daddy doll. And when she can, he gets on the webcam, and she can see him, and wave at him, and make funny faces to him. So, she knows who Daddy is.”
During the holiday season, Kensley decided she had had enough of her father’s absence— and enlisted the help of dear, ol’ Santa to help her get him back.
Kensley wasn’t sure if Santa would agree to her plans, but she knew she had to try. She even made a special Christmas song to help her try and convince him: “Santa Baby, bring Daddy home to me”, sung to the tune of Eartha Kitt’s iconic holiday tune “Santa Baby”.
How could Santa say no to such a heartfelt request? With a cheerful, knowing smile and a nod, he gestures for Kensley to turn her around, and in this instant, the little girl experiences the true magic of Christmas— her Dad is suddenly standing before her, and she knows it’s all thanks to incredible Saint Nick.
This year, Kensley would be 12-years-old, but 9 years later, her special moment is still warming hearts around the world to this very day.
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