(CBS) — Thousands of men and women serving the country are spending this Christmas away from their families. But some fortunate ones made it back just in time.

CBS 2’s Dana Kozlov takes us to a holiday homecoming.

Six-year-old Ella Sitz is all about staying near her mom, Air Force Lieutenant Colonel Jennifer Sitz. The 15 year military veteran just came back from her deployment in Afghanistan, where she was separated from her daughter, nine-year-old son Lucas and husband Dave for six months.

“Leaving my kids was definitely the harder part,” Lt. Colonel Sitz said. “That was scarier than being scared in Afghanistan to me.”

There’s no question her kids are glad she’s home.

Sitz’s holiday season homecoming was really just a bonus.

“It’s a big relief,” Dave Sitz said. “It makes this particular Christmas more special.”

They’re spending the season with extended family, on both sides. But not far from the lieutenant colonel’s thoughts are her fellow servicemen and women, thousands of them spending the day away from their loved ones. Sitz asks everyone keep them in their thoughts.

“Even better, if you can do something to help their families that are back here that are trying to celebrate Christmas without mom or dad or son, daughter, brother, sister, whatever that is,” Sitz said. “If you can help the families back home, that’s really the biggest thing you can do for anyone that’s deployed.”

Lieutenant Colonel Sitz is not scheduled to go back to Afghanistan. She says she thinks a lot about those she served with in Afghanistan and hopes for their safe, quick return.