Unseasonal cheer

So anyway, my time here in Michigan is already up, which is disappointing. I was just getting into the groove of relaxing and not worrying about responsibilities and such. Ah well, life encroaches. I did at least enjoy my trip to Frankenmuth. When it’s not busy being racist, it’s an amusing little tourist town, and one of its biggest draws is an oddball little shop on the outskirts of town called Bronners. Well, not so little, actually. It’s about a half-acre of retail space, all told. That’s pretty big, but what makes it notable is that the whole thing is dedicated to selling Christmas goods the entire year ’round.

It’s really quite surreal to step into a store to escape the summertime heat and find yourself surrounded by Christmas trappings. And of course most of the holiday goods on offer are anything but tasteful. They’re not crass in the same way as Frankenmuth’s anti-German slander; just garish. But when you are inundated by half an acre of retail surfaces crammed quite literally to the rafters with the trappings of the holidays, even the most discreet and neatly designed ornaments become a bit oppressive.

Of course, most of what’s for sale is anything but discreet and neatly designed — besides Sexy Santa, of course — so that certainly doesn’t help.

Still, once you look past the insanity of it all, it’s actually pretty interesting; here in this store is just about every expression of Christmas visuals imaginable. I’ve never actually seen a traditional nutcracker in real life, for instance, but I found two aisles of them this weekend. And when you tire of the fat old man in a tacky red tunic, you can always go for the more traditional Father Christmas. Or whatever.

And some of the little miniatures are pretty amazing. This random diner has crazy detail inside, and when you watch these little mini villages it feels like Christmas in Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood. Of course, for those who find that too much in keeping with good taste, you can also buy miniatures of every building and scenario featured in A Christmas Story. Yes, there’s a leg-shaped lamp in the window, and a bunch of Chinese cooks caroling in front of the Chop Suey Palace. Keeping that Frankenmuth tradition of racial sensitivity alive!

And when the relentless Christmas carols playing in the background finally cause you to start losing your mind, you can always take a moment’s refuge in the odd pockets of Halloween goods scattered about.

Man, San Francisco is boring sometimes.

15 thoughts on “Unseasonal cheer

  1. I went to Holiday World in Santa Claus, IN when I was a little kid. I remember it being pretty much like this store. But with a roller coaster. And a stunt diving show.

  2. I went to Holiday World once, too. Nothing really sticks out except the long drive, though.

  3. Oh man, my aunt used to take my sister and I to Frankenmuth whenever we visited her in Detroit, and I always remember being bored with our 2-hour visit like five minutes after wandering though Christmas junk. Did you at least get to go to Zehnder’s for lunch? They have some killer fried chicken.

  4. Finally, a place where this question is not entirely irrelevant:

    Why do the Chinese wait staff/cooks in A Christmas Story sing “Fa ra ra ra ra…”? On a related note, one Christmas break I went with my wife’s family to a Japanese steakhouse in Amarillo, and this tween who was there with his parents actually started singing that song, ridiculous accent included. And the parents laughed! What fine people.

    /untimely Christmas-related material

  5. I went to a year-round Christmas store like that actually in Germany. It was… pretty much like that, only perhaps with a slightly higher percentage of actually cool stuff to offset the garish monstrosities, due to easier access to local craft-work.

  6. There’s a place very much like this in Victoria, BC, except for your mention of aisles. This store knows no such thing–it’s essentially a maze of multiple levels connected by narrow staircases, with every surface and most floor space completely covered in Christmas decorations. I can’t even imagine how (or if) they take inventory.

  7. Eric, I ate at Halo Burger, because no one should ever be in East Michigan without a trip to Halo Burger. Priorities, man, priorities!

  8. I recently took my girlfriend and her kids to Santa’s Workshop, a themepark in the appropriately named Notth Pole, NY, near Lake Placid. It was a little creepy hearing the ride opperators say, “Merry Christmas,” as you got off of the rides, especially in August.

  9. Hey, I have a coworker here in Florida who used to live in Michigan near Bronner’s! Now we all have something sorta in common.

  10. What’s with all this racial sensitivity stuff lately. It’s a Christmas store. Are you that thin-skinned? :

  11. “racist” and “anti-German” slander??? What is your problem? Frankenmuth is anything but.

  12. I live about an hour from there! As for some of these comments, obviously some of you guys didn’t grow up reading Mr. Parish’s articles in EGM.

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