MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — One Eagan family has a Christmas card tradition like no other – and it even got them on AwkwardFamilyPhotos.com.

Twenty-four years ago, however, the first Johnson family Christmas cards were fairly innocent. The girls were dressed alike in clothes made by their mother, Sue Johnson. But that was hardly enough to impress a mailing list.

“They might’ve noticed that we had matching outfits but, nobody really said anything,” Sue said.

So Sue cranked up the Christmas spirit. Every holiday she designed elaborate themes like gingerbread men, toy soldiers and Christmas trees. Sue continued to make each costume by hand, and often included pieces to fit around her family member’s heads.

“My kids hate the head things,” she said.

This year, a new family member was introduced to the tradition. Daughter Valerie’s husband, Mike, was Rudolph, complete with a red glitter nose, in a series of family reindeer.

“I knew exactly what I was getting into, unfortunately,” Mike said.

“That’s why it took nine years to get married,” his wife added.

Sue’s family isn’t quite sure how she decides what the family will be on any given year.

“I don’t know where she comes up with this stuff,” said Sue’s daughter Erica. “Every year it goes a little further.”

The kids haven’t always taken to the themes so easily. For example, the year they dressed as toy soldiers was particularly difficult.

“I felt really bad for [my brother] one year,” Erica said. “At the place we got the picture taken because there were kids from his school who worked there.”

But the risk of her son’s embarrassment didn’t deter Sue’s family focus.

“I told them if you want to be in this family, you have to be in the Christmas card and do what I say,” Sue said.

Besides, if you took away the outfits and the cards, a Johnson family Christmas wouldn’t be the same. Although the kids may joke around, they know exactly how special the moments are.

“She’s given us a lot,” Erica said. “So this is the one thing she says she asks for. So we give it to her.”

It’s the best gift Sue could get from her kids.

This was the first year the Johnson’s went on location for their Christmas card picture. The family rented a sleigh in Hugo, where Sue and her husband dressed as Mr. and Mrs. Claus and their children were Santa’s reindeer.

Comments (10)
  1. joy says:

    I see therapy in these kids’ future, lots and lots of therapy.

    1. Wearejustasstupidastheyare says:

      Joy some families just like to have fun and it seems they did not need therapy since the are adults now. Maybe you should go to a reading class since you missed the part that they are grown up now and doing very well and it is their choice to keep doing the cards.

      1. joy says:

        My comment was meant to be sarcastic and funny. Whatever floats their boat.

        1. Mycommentsarejustasstupidasyoursare says:

          Joy, some families just like to have fun. If you have fun, that is not ok. So, don’t have fun commenting on others having fun, ok? Otherwise ‘Wearejustasstupidastheyare’ will get upset, and stop having fun. Apparently ‘Wearejustasstupidastheyare’ is wound up too tight this holiday season, and needs to have more fun.

  2. what the says:

    One has to wonder what is up with this comment forum. I compose a comment and a pop up comes up and tells me I’m posting to fast even though its my first comment. Many times my comment just doesn’t appear and any attempt to get it there brings up the incredibly annoying pop up telling me I’ve already said that. I find it interesting that this forum allows unlimited liberal vitriol but blocks conservative comments. Is the monitoring of this comment performed by a computer, or is there actually some pimple faced effing git censoring whatever posts don’t fit cco’s agenda?

  3. Sandy says:

    What the, I get blocked all the time for comments that are NOT inappropriate and true and could not agree with you more on your last sentence above!

  4. A mom :-) says:

    What a fun story! 🙂 Good job Johnson family! 🙂
    As a mom, I have enough “stuff”. I just want family around and to make family memories! We too have friends that send out fabulous/creative Christmas cards & every year we wait in anticipation to see what they’ve come up with each year.
    It’s all about family folks…let them have their fun. Pretty sure the tears in her eyes says it all!!
    Merry Christmas.

    PS: KUDOS to the new son-in-law for being a terrific sport! 🙂

  5. Kevin says:

    Why the *ell…isnt the Occupy MN morons protesting this???? Ummm…recession…..unemployment…..housing crash….War……..violence……mexican cartell…….starvation……N Mpls war zone…..so lets dress up like a *uckin reindeer???? When it all comes to an end….these are the first I remove……

  6. kevin"s stalker barb says:

    your my hero kevin. i would stalk you by my bra size gets in the way. i love you.

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