LUBBOCK, Texas – It may not be Christmas just yet, but for one Lubbock Middle Schooler, the best gift was received Tuesday morning.

Azailiah Sanchez sat in the cafeteria at Irons Middle School with her classmates just as the bell rang, and one of her teachers started to call the names of students who had gifts to receive. Her name was the last to be called, but the teacher didn’t have a gift for her.

Instead, Azailiah was instructed to go to the other side of the room with her teacher to look through a set of double doors. Little did she know, her dad who has been deployed since September would pop out.

Christian Salinas serves in the U.S. Army and has been stationed in Fort Lee, Virginia. He made it home in Lubbock overnight, and even had to sneak in the house so Azailiah wouldn’t suspect a thing.

“Locked my doors, the closet door, put all my stuff underneath the covers. Because I know she’s pretty smart, and if she sees any little thing out of place, she might figure out something,” Salinas explained.

They successfully pulled off the surprise, and Azailiah’s mom, Alex agreed that it was all worth it. “All my kids have asked for Christmas is to bring their dad home. So, to be able to make this happen is probably one of the best things that they could have right now,” she said.

Azailiah added that it has been hard not having her dad home, but said, “This was the best present I could get.”

Salinas said they plan to take advantage of the little time they have together before he has to go back. During his time here, he plans to take Azailiah to see the new Avatar movie since she has been wanting to see it.

“For me to come home and see them, this is pretty good,” he added.