About the most festive thing I’ve done this year so far (besides putting a wreath on the Wagoneer) was making the trek to Frankenmuth to visit Bronner’s Christmas Wonderland.
I still don’t really understand Bronner’s, but that’s okay–I don’t think Bronner’s is the kind of place that is meant to be understood. It must be experienced.
If you’ve never been, I can’t recommend it enough. It’s a descent into eight acres of holiday insanity. It’s like one of those over-the-top haunted houses, except they’re peddling Christmas spirit instead of fear. Also, it’s staffed entirely by Nice Old Church Ladies instead of creepy chainsaw-wielding meth addicts.
And the staff knows where everything is. Everything. The Nice Old Church Ladies see a carefully orchestrated symphony of holiday cheer where I resolve only chaos. On a whim, Nina asked a staff member if Bronner’s sold sushi ornaments–a question that would seem insane almost anywhere else on the planet–and without missing a beat, the woman said “Oh yeah, check section 10A.” Sure enough, sushi ornaments, section 10A. Ornaments, plural. Bronner’s stocks more than one variety of sushi ornament. Why not?
But Bronner’s wouldn’t be the same without the other shoppers. These are people who care about Christmas (or at least Christmas decor) more than you or I could ever imagine. More than anything else in the world, even.
Example: I was staring dumbly at an ornament that looked like a little snowman dressed as the Statue of Liberty–except it wasn’t a snowman, it was a marshmallow man standing on a pedestal of chocolate and Graham crackers. It was a miniature s’more-man. I couldn’t believe something so mind-numbingly kitschy could have possibly made it into production. I was still staring, slack-jawed, when a couple walked up to the rack of ornaments.
The wife looked at her husband and said, casually, “Oh, here are the s’more guys.”
The s’more guys. Of course. Everyone knows about the s’more guys. Silly me.
And then I realized that I was standing in front of an entire rack of s’more guys.
The rest of the trip was kind of a blur. I think I had a breakdown, “Charlton Heston at the end of Planet of the Apes“-style, after seeing the s’more guy stand.
But I’m sure I’ll be back, ready to have my brain fried yet again by some completely moronic Christmas accessory, after eleven months or so of recuperation. Next year, you too should head to Bronner’s for an overdose of holiday cheer–Christmastime wouldn’t be the same without it.
P.S. The S’more guys have given me hope that my “Birds With Arms” ornament collection has at least a small chance of making it into production. Look for it at Bronner’s in 2012.