Family that put pause on Christmas welcomes son back from deployment

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FARGO — A member of the North Dakota Air National Guard missed Christmas at home in Fargo while deployed overseas, but his family decided to delay the celebration into February so they could spend the holiday together.

Walking into the Nienas home in north Fargo Wednesday, Feb. 5, the Christmas spirit lived on more than a month after December. Decorations were everywhere and the dining table was set with Christmas dinnerware waiting for the turkey to finally come out of the kitchen.

"We have been washing the dishes weekly to keep them dust-free, and we will again before we eat," said Tammy Nienas, whose son Alex Nienas had been deployed in the Middle East for six months.

Rather than celebrate in December without him, the family left the tree up — complete with presents resting under its branches. The tree had been up for so long, Tammy said she had to take unconventional measures to keep it clean.

"We have used the blow dryer to get the dust off the tree because I don't know what else to do," she explained.


The nativity set is also still up. Outside, the family put up ribbons, stars and flags to welcome Alex home.

At Hector International Airport Wednesday, Alex's family prepared for his arrival. The 22-year-old, who had been gone since July, was finally returning home with more than a dozen servicemen and -women from the North Dakota Air National Guard's 119th Security Forces.

After reuniting and exchanging hugs, the family headed home to celebrate.


Kevin Wallevand has been a Reporter at WDAY-TV since 1983. He is a native of Vining, Minnesota in Otter Tail County. His series and documentary work have brought him to Africa, Vietnam, Haiti, Kosovo, South America, Mongolia, Juarez,Mexico and the Middle East. He is an multiple Emmy and national Edward R. Murrow award recipient.

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