A Finnish Christmas

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For those of you that don’t know, I’m married to a five year old Buddy the Elf. Greg is always fun, he’s always happy, and he LOVES Christmas. Carols around our house start in October, though he was a little late this year and didn’t subject me until harvest was over in early November. But after that he did subject me to Mariah Carey on repeat multiple days in a row.

Once upon a time Gregory decided he needed to meet Santa Claus. We started talking about it last year but decided it would be too inconvenient on standby, but this year after dropping to ultra part-time at work we decided to take the plunge. I don’t even remember how I found out but I discovered Santa does not live at the North Pole. Rather, he lives at the Arctic Circle in the aptly named Santa Claus Village in Rovaniemi, Finland.


I have only ever met one Finn in my life so I messaged my friend Kristina on Facebook to ask if she had any recommendations on going to meet the Big Man himself. Well wouldn’t you know it, Kristina and her Texan husband Mike live in Rovaniemi and work for Snowman World in Santa Claus Village. What are the odds?! They invited us up to stay with them and help fulfill Greg’s dream of meeting Santa since Kristina “is technically like one of his helpers” (she does sales and marketing for him (don’t tell your kids)).

When I told Greg the news we were both tearing up we were so excited. So after Thanksgiving with my family in Oklahoma we flew standby on to New York, then dipped our toes both into international standby, and standby with a different airline. Greg was very nervous about flying a different airline since we had never tried it before. Standby on our airline is free domestically, but we pay airport taxes and fees to fly with other airlines and it’s ridiculously inexpensive. You want ultra cheap travel? Go work for an airline. But if you like a decent salary, benefits, paid time off, and actually getting to your destination of choice when you choose, you might just stick to your real job and play the miles and points game.

Flights were oversold from Tulsa on our first day of travel so we just stayed an extra day with family. My standby motto is “the path of least resistance”. We didn’t have any issues getting to JFK and Finnair has direct flights from there to Helsinki so that was our first choice. Not only did we get checked in with no issues, but they gave us seat assignments as soon as we checked in, not only for the Helsinki flight, but for our connecting flight the next day to Rovaniemi. For those of us that fly standby, it was unheard of.

Never trusting of an easy standby situation, we didn’t start getting excited until they scanned our boarding passes at the gate and actually let us board. It couldn’t have been an easier process, and I’m afraid this experience may have thrown us over the travel edge.

I haven’t had an excuse to wear Ted hose in like a year and a half! It has been FAR too long between international trips for us.
Finnair was great! We love any airline with free on-demand movies and tv. I can never sleep on international flights because I’m too excited for all the mindless entertainment. We watched Guardians of the Galaxy, Hank and Asha, Tammy, and part of Office Space.
The food was delightful! Greg and I always get a different meal then share the two. I even managed to finagle the salads away from the kids next to us. What? They were’t going to eat them.
Rovaniemi is the official airport of Santa Claus. I guess in case his sleigh breaks down.
Just where is Rovaniemi, Finland? Right on the Arctic Circle.
The view from Mike and Kristina’s back door. It’s a real winter wonderland!
Finnish berries for dessert. The orange ones are cloudberries, and clockwise from there blueberries, lingonberries, and black currants. Cloudberries are super tart but delightful, black currants are delicious, and lingonberries taste like lamb meat.
There’s Kristina! We worked together in Yellowstone National Park at the Old Faithful Inn in 2005 and haven’t seen each other since. Already a wonderful host!
Trying some Finnish booze- salmiakkikossu, or salmari for short. It. Was. Awful. Kippis! (the Finnish ‘cheers’)
Kristina let Greg count down day three on the advent calendar. She’s just so good with children.
We left Cake out to play with M & K’s Anthony. Obviously they’re getting along just fine.
Finnish pillowcase. I don’t know what it says, but I need one.

We’re having a great time in Finland already and can’t wait to explore Rovaniemi on foot tomorrow, and meet Santa (SANTA!!!!) on Friday. Kippis!

p.s. Sunrise tomorrow is 10:19a and sunset is 1:52p!


6 thoughts on “A Finnish Christmas

  1. Love reading about your adventures and stories Jamie and Greg! Have so much fun. I can’t wait to tell my kids that I actually know someone that went to meet Santa. P.S. Ava and Julia watched Elf the other night and I heard cackling…cackling I tell you…coming from their room.

  2. If things don’t work out with you and Greg and me and Micah, can we hook up? I’ll be a good traveler, I promise!! I’ll even sing Christmas carols!

  3. That airline food looks absolutely terrible. Seriously. Worse than the broccoli cookies Leslie made that one time. Speaking of, Leslie, I thought I was your sister wife. I thought we had a deal! I can travel too!

    1. It was actually very good. I had vegetarian pasta and Greg had beef and rice. We both could’ve eaten about three more.

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