Thanks to Photoshop, Staff Sgt. Andrew Smith appears in his family's Christmas card photo, despite being deployed overseas.
His wife, Andrea Pritts-Smith, has been deluged with online comments and phone calls since she posted an image of her, her husband and their 3-year-old daughter, Charlotte.
Andrea and Charlotte are pictured with an overflowing shopping cart inside a North Carolina Target store. The toddler is seen using the basket as a big step stool to a top shelf of the toy aisle. Her dad, clad in fatigues, holds his arms out to catch her while standing in a parched field with a mountain in the distance.
Smith's photographer friend, Leslie Owen, manipulated the two images into one-holiday portrait.
"I just never expected our Christmas photo to catch fire like this," the 28-year-old mother told InsideEdition.com Tuesday.
Her Facebook post has been liked more than 500 times. "It went crazy," she said.
Why did she pick Target as her backdrop, instead of, say, a roaring fire or a twinkling Christmas tree?
"My daughter is obsessed with Target," she replied. "I mean obsessed. When we drive by a Target store and she sees the sign, she'll say 'Mommy, can we go to Target?'''
The mother has no idea why Target so mesmerizes her little girl. "We don't even have to buy anything, she just likes to walk around."
After talking with Owen about staging a yuletide portrait, the photographer suggested they take Charlotte to her favorite place, fill up a buggy with her favorite toys, and see what happened.
In the image, Andrea is sitting on the floor, drinking a cup of coffee, oblivious to Charlotte standing on the shopping cart's handle (the last part was Photoshopped, too).
Her husband wasn't keen on the image. "I can't have you posting that," he told her in an email. "I have to be catching her. I have to know she's safe."
She said OK, don't worry, we'll take care of it.
A Marine buddy took a photo of Smith looking upward, arms outstretched and Smith emailed it to his wife. "It worked out perfect," she said.
For security reasons, she is not allowed to say where her husband is stationed or when he will return.
But he has access to the internet.
He emailed Monday night after the family photo began burning up the internet. "What is going on with this Christmas card?" he asked incredulously.
Smith is pleased, and more than a little stunned, at the response.
"There are people missing their loves right now," she said. "There are still people serving overseas. There are still people serving their country."
This will be the family's first Christmas apart. Last year, Andrew Smith came home two days before Santa's arrival. "My daughter was ecstatic. She told everyone that Santa brought her daddy home."
Charlotte knows her dad will be gone this holiday. "She understands," her mom said. "She said, 'It's OK, daddy. I just want you to be safe.'''
Andrea "just wanted my husband included in our Christmas card. That's how all this started," she said.
RELATED: How the stars are celebrating Christmas
How the stars are celebrating Christmas
How the stars are celebrating Christmas
We had an awesome Xmas this year -wearing matching pajamas n all.
Merry #ChristmasEve, y’all! 🎄❤️🌟 Can’t believe the big man comes tomorrow!!! 🎅🏼 #SantaClausIsComingToTown
Got all dressed up for Christmas!! @jessicasimpson #christmas #christmastree #christmastime #love
Best Christmas present ever! A kiss from @chrishemsworth !!! El mejor regalo de navidad!!' Un beso de de @chrishemsworth!! 😘😍
Merry Christmas to you and yours ...
My whole crew wishing you love this Christmas!! Xx
Feeling so lucky to be in Canada to have a white Christmas. ❤️❤️
Merry Christmas!!! 🎄🎄🎄
Merry Christmas Eve !!!!!!!!
Santa baby 🎅🎅😂😂
Happy holidays from Australia!! #family #happyholidays2016
From these two little elves in a cabin to you and yours. ❤️ #ByersFirstChristmas
Happy Hollidays we feel so blessed
Enjoying a beautiful Christmas Eve dinner; the rest of the crew is off signing carols.
My boys are giant.
Yes, I'm wearing my Mrs.Santa apron.
We have crazy #friends in front of us.
@carterthumps ate all the cookies.
HAPPY #HOLLYdays 🎅🏻💃🏼❤️
Santa baby. 🎅🏽💋🎄.
Merry Christmas to all especially @instasuelos
Have a very merry Christmas everyoneeeee 🎅🏽🎅🏽🎅🏽
Happy Holidays from me and Joe. #family, #StaySafe, #uglysweaters, #☃️
Merry Christmas everybody! Have a great day!!! @princeashtent @princessariahuna @alyssaatimmons
Happy Christmas Eve! So full of Cuban food and happiness! #christmaseve #merrychristmas #family #cubanolove #momshouse
Merry Christmas everyone
They see me Rollin' they Hatin' 🚗
We're gettin the band back together... ha just kidding.. at least just for the holidays. I love my brothers so much after all we've been through together to know I can always rely on these guys no matter what is the greatest feeling in the world. Kevin, joe and Frankie. You are my best friends and I love you so much. #merrychristmas #happyholidays
Merry Christmas!! Sending peace, love and joy from The Ponti Family! Xxxx
Feliz Navidad! Los quiero! Shak
Merry Aussie Christmas!!! "A scorcher" from Down Under, as they say! It's 100 degrees!!!! I'm hot but happy (cuz there's ham!) And verrrrryyy thirsty. 🥂🎄🎅🏽🌞 #lovepeacehappiness and #airconditioning
Just two little Keebler elves excited for Santa
Happy holidays everybody.
May you all have a joyous holiday and a new year full of joy health and love
I feel like if I wear this Santa will mistake me for a 9 year old and leave a Barbie dream house under our tree... 🤔💭
She hasn't opened a single other present. She's just been playing with her dream house since she came downstairs. Santa really knows his stuff. MERRY CHRISTMAS.
Merry Christmas from our family to yours🎄❤️
At home at my parents for christmas and I just saw my doggie again. I love my dog! 🎄😂💜🐶
A little Christmas Eve yoga with my cousin Meredith (@ettlivstyle). A scorpion handstand meets a headstand!
Merry Christmas from Blue Chair Bay
Mrs Claus HERE! Have you been naughty or nice?! #merrychristmas MY FAVORITE TIME OF THE YEAR. #GODIS 💋💋💋
Best friends 😊😊
Merry CHRISTMAS and Happy Holidays to All my Friends ! May you awaken on CHRISTMAS morning to all the magic and wonder this Special Day Holds and may the peace and love it inspires carry over to light up your Joyous New Year! May the spirit of Christmas infuse our daily lives so we all learn to live as one in peace on our beautiful little planet! 🎼🌈🗼❤️🗽💚🏯💙🏰💜⛲️💛🌀🎡🏟❤️🏔🌀💚🏝🗿💜🗻🏕🏜♻️🌋🌎🎄🌺🐙🦋👉🏿👈🏼🙏🏼✌🏼🎶🎅🏽🌀❤💚🍾🌟👨👩👦👦👩👩👦👦👨👨👦👦👩👦👦👨👦👦💐❄️☃️⛄️
Merry Christmas from the Wahlbergs! 🎄
THANK YOU SANTA 🎅🌲🎁🎁🎁🎁🎁🎁
Yesterday we soaked the Christmas turkey in buttermilk, salt, sugar, pepper and bay leaves all day in this gorgeous clay pot and left it outside on the terrace while we baked cookies for Santa and sneaked open a few presents and sang old Bollywood songs with granny and grandpa..... then at midnight we stuffed it with citrus and garlic and herbs, surrounded it with apples and onions and rosemary. It's been cooking all night long.....#littlehands #bigbird #aboutlastnight
It's a beautiful night at home Home Sweet Home Happy holidays. Peace to all
Well.... #Santa was a success!! #MerryChristmas 🎅🏼@m_phelps00
Here’s wishing you a wonderful Christmas time. Have a brilliant Chrissy y’all! Love Paul
#PaulMcCartney #HappyChristmas #MerryChristmas #Festive #Love #Christmas #WonderfulChristmasTime
Ace just watched How The Grinch Stole Christmas. He then proceeded to walk up to his tree and yelled "I hate Christmas" and tossed it. #aceknute #merrychristmas
Christmas with my kids.. PaPaJoe took the first run... @jessicasimpson @ashleesimpsonross #christmas #christmastime #love #family #snow
What it really looks like taking a picture with a toddler on Christmas 🎄🎄🎄