EAGAN, Minn. -- The mom has never been minted who doesn't like to dress up her family for the holidays. But no mom puts the torment in her children's Christmas like Sue Johnson.
"Oh my God," gasps Sue's son Michael as he pulls a sheep costume out of a plastic sack at the Woodbury Proex photo studio. Michael is 21 years old. There are more sheep costumes for his sisters: 26-year-old Erica and 29-year-old Valerie.
"This is probably the most ridiculous one yet," says Michael shaking his head as he holds up the costume his mother has made by hand. He's reminded of the bunny suit worn by Ralphie in the film "A Christmas Story."
Under a scarf nearby, delighting in the scene unfolding before her, is Sue. "I'm the shepherd's wife," she smiles. Her family knows her as a woman used to getting what she wants. Especially when it comes to the families annual Christmas card photo send to nearly 200 homes of family and friends.
"I call my wife, 'She who must be obeyed," smiles Sue's husband Rob, dressed in a shepherd's costume. "When she wanted us to march down Highland Parkway in the year we were dressed as toy soldiers we kind of balked at that. We drew the line there."
But so far, just there, as the Johnson siblings grew from children to adults dressed as wrapped Christmas presents, colored lightbulbs and snowmen.
Even their advancement into respectable professions didn't stop their mom. Erica Riehm is a teacher. Valerie Johnson is an emergency room physician at Hennepin County Medical Center. "Yes I'm sure I'll have a lot of patients who will enjoy seeing this," she says with a note of sarcasm in the direction of the KARE 11 photographer in the room.
When Erica married Andy Riehm, he too was recruited for the photo. He wasn't given an option. "Don't worry honey it's not that baaaaad," laughs Erica at her husband who too is clad in a sheep suit.
Over nearly two decades Sue has dressed up her family as angels, Christmas trees and reindeer. She clearly has the love and obedience of her chidren. What more could she want?
"Maybe our last one will be New Years and we'll be in diapers," she laughs. "No!" say her family in unison.
Don't count her out. Wily as a wolf is a mother who can get her children in sheep's clothing.
(Copyright 2009 by KARE. All Rights Reserved.)