Navy mom deployed for 11 months shocks son as he poses for photo with mall Santa

After nearly a year apart, Navy reservist Julie Workman wanted the reunion with her son to be special.

So she consulted with her husband and her sister-in-law, who works at a local mall, and hatched a plan to surprise her 12-year-old boy, Dillon, as he got his photo taken with Santa Claus.

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Workman, who had served in Bahrain since January, wasn't sure her son would consent to sitting on Santa's knee, given his age, but "he was being a really good sport," she told InsideEdition.com Monday.

Dillon was truly stunned when his mother walked up behind him, tapped him on the shoulder, and asked, "Mind if I get in this picture?"

The boy's jaw dropped and he jumped to his feet, throwing his arms around his mother and hugging her tight. "He didn't want to let go," she said. "We both cried. He was wiping his face on my shirt."

Workman had returned to the states last month, but was in Virginia, waiting for word on when she could go home to Cleveland.

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Mrs Claus takes a photo of her husband Santa Bill Armstrong (R), with Santa Fred Osther as they head for class at the Charles W. Howard Santa Claus School in Midland, Michigan, October 28, 2016. REUTERS/Christinne Muschi 
Santas and Mrs. Clauses enjoy lunch at Pizza Sam's on Main Street during a break from class at Charles W. Howard Santa Claus School in Midland, Michigan, U.S. October 27, 2016. REUTERS/Christinne Muschi 
Santa Randy Schneider of Muskegon, Michigan learns wood toy making in the Gerace shop in Midland, Michigan, U.S. October 29, 2016. REUTERS/Christinne Muschi 
Santa Sam Hopeck of Commerce Township, Michigan rides the Polar Express train during a field trip from the Charles W. Howard Santa Claus School in Midland, Michigan, U.S. October 28, 2016. REUTERS/Christinne Muschi 
Rudolph walks out of Pizza Sam's with fellow Santas on Main Street during a lunch break from class at Charles W. Howard Santa Claus School in Midland, Michigan, U.S. October 27, 2016. REUTERS/Christinne Muschi 
Santas wave as they leave for lunch between classes at the Charles W. Howard Santa Claus School in Midland, Michigan, U.S. October 27, 2016. REUTERS/Christinne Muschi 
Thomas Valent, dean of the Charles W. Howard Santa Claus School sits in the Santa House in Midland, Michigan, U.S. October 29, 2016. REUTERS/Christinne Muschi 
Santas laugh as they learn about Santa Spirit during class at the Charles W. Howard Santa Claus School in Midland, Michigan, U.S. October 27, 2016. REUTERS/Christinne Muschi 
Santas disembark from a wagon following a tour around the Rooftop Landing Reindeer Farm in Clare, Michigan, U.S. October 30, 2016. REUTERS/Christinne Muschi 
Santa Jerry Julian of Colorado Springs, Colorado hides in the grass following a ride on the Polar Express during a field trip from the Charles W. Howard Santa Claus School in Midland, Michigan, U.S. October 28, 2016. REUTERS/Christinne Muschi 
Santa listens to a reindeer at the Rooftop Landing Reindeer Farm in Clare, Michigan, U.S. October 30, 2016. REUTERS/Christinne Muschi 
Santa Glenn Johnson of Woodstock, Georgia learns new dance moves during the Charles W. Howard Santa Claus School in Midland, Michigan, U.S. October 29, 2016. REUTERS/Christinne Muschi 
Santa Fred Osther from Oslo, Norway waits for the afternoon session of classes at the Charles W. Howard Santa Claus School in Midland, Michigan, U.S. October 28, 2016. REUTERS/Christinne Muschi
Santa Leon McBryde (L) of Buchanan, Virginia and Santa Stephen Gillham of Chapel Hill, North Carolina pose at the end of classes from the Charles W. Howard Santa Claus School in Midland, Michigan, U.S. October 29, 2016. REUTERS/Christinne Muschi 
Santa Paul Fanning of Tyler, Texas rides past Christmas decorations during a break in schedule at the Charles W. Howard Santa Claus School in Midland, Michigan, U.S. October 27, 2016. REUTERS/Christinne Muschi
Santas and Mrs Claus greet a child at the Rooftop Landing Reindeer Farm in Clare, Michigan, U.S. October 30, 2016. REUTERS/Christinne Muschi 
Santa Fred Osther from Oslo, Norway shops at a Toys R Us during a field trip from the Charles W. Howard Santa Claus School in Midland, Michigan, U.S. October 28, 2016. REUTERS/Christinne Muschi 
Five year old Claire tugs the beard of Santa Barry Westmoreland of Germanton, North Carolina as the Santas visit a Toys R Us store, during a field trip from the Charles W. Howard Santa Claus School in Midland, Michigan, U.S. October 28, 2016. REUTERS/Christinne Muschi 
Santa Jerry Julian of Colorado Springs, Colorado shows some yoga moves outside the Santa House in Midland, Michigan, U.S. October 27, 2016. REUTERS/Christinne Muschi 
Santa Jim Hastings (R) from Durham, North Carolina, is helped into his suit by a fellow Santa prior to a visit from a group of children at the Santa House in Midland, Michigan, U.S. October 28, 2016. REUTERS/Christinne Muschi 
Santas board a bus for a field trip from the Charles W. Howard Santa Claus School in Midland, Michigan, U.S. October 28, 2016. REUTERS/Christinne Muschi 
Santa Jack Bradley of Iron Ridge, Wisconsin is fitted for a suit following classes at the Charles W. Howard Santa Claus School in Midland, Michigan, U.S. October 28, 2016. REUTERS/Christinne Muschi 
Santa Lamar May of Dallas, Georgia is shown how to groom his beard and moustache during classes at the Charles W. Howard Santa Claus School in Midland, Michigan, U.S. October 27, 2016. REUTERS/Christinne Muschi 
Santa Holmes Kimble from Farmer City, Illinois, learns to apply Santa make-up during classes at the Charles W. Howard Santa Claus School in Midland, Michigan, U.S. October 27, 2016. REUTERS/Christinne Muschi 
Santas learn breathing techniques as they attend class at the Charles W. Howard Santa Claus School in Midland, Michigan, U.S. October 27, 2016. REUTERS/Christinne Muschi 
Santa Leon McBryde performs at the Charles W. Howard Santa Claus School in Midland, Michigan, U.S. October 29, 2016. REUTERS/Christinne Muschi 
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She called her sister-in-law last week, saying she was coming home the next day. Her husband and his sister got everything together, and convinced Dillon to sit with Santa for a photo for the first time in years.

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"I'm surprised he did it," Workman said. And when he eventually laid eyes on his mother, he was the one surprised.

"He didn't know what to do," she said. "He's usually really shy. I was nervous that he would just be like, 'I want to leave now.'"

Instead, he seemed rooted to the spot as he fiercely hugged his mother.

"There were definitely tears on both sides," she said.

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