It's a Christmas that one New Hampshire family will never forget. Three children from New London are filled with joy to have their mother home and healthy for the holiday after spending almost two months in West Africa fighting the Ebola epidemic.
Juliette, Daniel and Christoph waited a long time to decorate their tree because they were missing an important piece.
"They kindly waited for me," said their mother, Dr. Elizabeth Talbot.
Talbot got home late last week after being gone for almost two months, on a mission in Sierra Leone.
On Monday, she sat down with NECN and showed photos of one of the two Ebola Treatment Centers, or ETCs, built and fully staffed during her time. She talked about the dire situation she found when she arrived.
"The concern, the fear even, sometimes, was palpable," Dr. Talbot said.
She spent the first couple weeks of November coming up with a curriculum in Washington, D.C. She then went to Sierra Leone where she was responsible for training humanitarian workers to safely care for patients. By the time she left, Talbot says, the mortality rate was dropping.
"It was certainly a tremendous experience and certainly something I will never forget," she said.
Dr. Talbot is New Hampshire's Deputy State Epidemiologist, and has worked with the World Health Organization on other missions in Africa. But this, her husband says, was different.
"We were more worried this time because Ebola is such a high death rate," said Stephane Courtine.
Dr. Talbot promised her family she wouldn't have any direct contact with patients, and she didn't. For that reason, she was exempt from a mandatory quarantine.
"I was really happy and excited," said her son, Daniel.
After witnessing such suffering and despair, a world away from her family, Dr. Talbot says it's the simple things that make this Christmas so magical.
"I just feel so much more grateful to be home, to be comfortable, to have my health and my family," she said. "It's a very special holiday for me."
Dr. Talbot says she is required to take her temperature and report to the Department of Health and Human Services twice a day.
She says there is still a long way to go in Sierra Leone and that we shouldn't be surprised if she plans another trip.
But, she says, there will plenty of time to think about that after the holiday with her family.