GASTONIA, N.C. -- A Lowell mother received an early Christmas gift on Saturday.

Her son, Private First Class David Palmer, surprised her Saturday afternoon while she was eating lunch.

Feels good to be home to see my mother, she has no idea that I m here, he told NBC Charlotte as he waited in the kitchen area for the big surprise.

Private Palmer returned home to Gastonia from his 9-month-tour in Afghanistan. After finding out he d be home for Christmas, he said he started imagining all the family traditions that he d get to be a part of this year.

His mother, Debra, wasn't expecting him until the day after Christmas.

Palmer says a friend helped him to plan the surprise.

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