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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.
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!