SAN DIEGO - It is not how they planned on spending the holidays, but for Stephen Pace and his family, this was the next best thing.
His wife Erica said, "It's a chance for us to spend time with family around the holidays. That's always a fun time."
Pace was deployed overseas, missing his first Christmas with his now 16-month-old son.
It was a similar story among the more than 400 military families who were at the "Christmas You Missed" event Saturday in Tierrasanta. There were service members from 20 commands, assigned to bases around the county.
They had a rein-dog ride, decorated cookies and even Christmas trees. There was also a wish list table where kids could write what they wanted for Christmas and it was handed off to Santa.
"It’s easier without a missing family member," said Jasmine Bautista, a Navy daughter.
But it was bittersweet for other families like Rebecca Longsworth. Her husband missed Christmas last year and was deployed just weeks before the redo.
"It's very difficult, but he's out there doing what he needs to do and we're proud of him," she told 10News.