Saturday, December 19, 2009

Merry Making In Michigan

Magnet # 122:  Upper Peninsula

Material:  Metal, Paper, Mylar Shell

Purchased By:  Jessica

Well, we're headed up to Michigan for more old Christmas memories, some that occurred before I was ever born.  My parents spent some of their first Holiday seasons as a married couple in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, one of the coldest areas in the United States.  Really, I have no idea how anyone could love it there this time of year - it's around 18 degrees today!  One year, my Mom's parents and her sister traveled up there from Texas.  My aunt and I are completely alike in two ways - our favorite color is purple and we are both extremely cold natured and hate cold weather.  Well, it was so incredibly cold up there that she was convinced she had frostbite.  I think they had a nice visit anyway, but boy, am I glad that my folks had moved away from Michigan's Upper Peninsula by the time I was born.  We did visit it once, during the summer, to see their old haunts and it was nice enough.  But they even have a framed print of a winter scene in the area hanging in their house to remind them of those days - and make them grateful they're over, I guess.

If I had to be in Michigan at this time of the year, I'd head south to Frankenmuth and hit up the biggest Christmas shop in the world - Bronner's Christmas Wonderland.  I've mentioned that I am as enthusiastic  a collector of ornaments as I am of magnets, and this would definitely be a place where I could get a fix for my habit.  This store was founded in 1945 by Wally Bronner and while it remains a family business, it has grown a good deal since its opening - and then some.  Today, it is as large as 7 football fields and is packed with every sort of Christmas themed item imaginable.  If you're looking for ornaments, they have over 8,000 different styles to choose from in more than two dozen different categories - and they even have some that are Bronner's exclusives.  Looking for a tree to put it on?  Well, Bronner's sells over 200 different tree varieties and have over 500 different kinds of lights to put on them.  Everywhere you look in this store, there are countless Christmas offerings - even their ceiling is covered!  And if all of that crazy commerce is too overwhelming, take a break at their onsite Silent Night Chapel, a replica of the original in Oberndorf, Austria.  How many stores have their own chapels?

Bronner's has a long, celebrated history, but their greatest moment may have occurred in 1976, when John Wayne himself appeared on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson's Christmas Eve broadcast wearing a Santa suit he ordered from the store.  And don't worry, even if you can't make it there this season, they're open 361 days a year.  Check out http://www.bronners.com/ if you're curious.  As for me, I'd definitely like to check it out sometime.  Looks like they have two sections where they sell souvenirs.  And how great would a Bronner's magnet look in my collection!

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