austin_dern (austin_dern) wrote,
austin_dern
austin_dern

Whatever happened to Christmas? It's gone and left no traces

For bunny_hugger's birthday, and her parents' anniversary, they all wanted to do something fresh. In the town of Frankenmuth is ... well, a lot of German-culture stuff, because that's the niche the town has found. But part of that niche is Bronner's Christmas Wonderland. It proclaims itself to be the world's largest super-store of Christmas stuff and who could possibly resist a claim like that? ... Well, us, for surprisingly long. But that's just because you know how it is when there's some big, obviously interesting tourist-type attraction not all that far away. You can go anytime, so you never go.

To describe Bronner's briefly? Overwhelming. They give you a map as you enter the place and it's not even enough map. There's stuff to see in every direction and even more stuff after that. It's this fractal of Christmas decoration. Also of distractions: their signs point out how they're open 361 days per year. What's the extra day they get off for Leap Years? Yes, I'm the problem for wondering about stuff like that. They inspired the question.

We ate lunch at the snack bar, which turned out to have something vegetarian against my expectations. (Well, it's a strongly ethnically German town, and as I've said, German for ``vegetarian'' means ``the small sausage''.) The cashiers told us we could bring our drinks into the store as long as the cups were covered. The signs told us not to bring food or drinks into the store. How are we supposed to comply with mixed signals like that? I got a refill on m soda and then drank it sheepishly while in sight of the cafeteria.

So have you ever seen a peacock ornament for a Christmas tree? How about two? How about enough to cover a five-foot-tall Christmas tree all in peacock ornaments? I am exaggerating what Bronner's is like. Slightly. They only covered half a Christmas tree in peacock ornaments. The other half of the tree was owl ornaments. I mention this because it gives a flavor of what Bronner's is like. They don't just have a section for animal ornaments, or for bird ornaments. They have sections just for peacock ornaments and an adjacent section with just owl ornaments. Also cardinals. Also robins. All sorts of birds. When you're done with birds we can look at animals. Foxes. Bears. Polar bears. Mice. Rabbits. And it keeps going on. The effect threatens to crush one beneath heaps of Christmas merriment. How many goldfish ornaments did you imagine there even were? More than that.

Animated fixtures, too. All sorts of Santas and nativity scenes and whatever else you liked. One thing that enchanted me without seriously tempting me was a little drummer raccoon. I can't think of any price point that would make buying a drum-playing raccoon worth my while, but I had never imagined there was such a thing before, and now ... yes, I'm tempted.

Fantasy creatures. City miniatures. My Little Pony. Dragons (although fewer dragons than we had imagined). Paw Patrol, a show I hadn't thought much about before. Icicles. Bees. Flying saucers. Star Trek. Sloths. And that's not even getting into decorations besides what fits on Christmas trees.

We did get a couple of ornaments. Not many. I got a couple raccoons because even a place like that couldn't support the coati ornament market. More of what we got was Christmas support. bunny_hugger got an ornament stand which would be strong enough to hold up some of the heavy decorations my Rhode Island aunt and uncle send us. Her parents got a taller ornament stand, one meant for the floor. It looks better (and more full) in actual service than it did in the store. bunny_hugger also bought an advent calendar, one of the things which had made up her mind to going to Bronner's. There are few companies that make proper German-style advent calendars, with windows that are all over the elaborate scene. bunny_hugger used it for the season and posted them to her LiveJournal and Facebook and whatnot.

It's an astounding place. I don't know when w'll be back, but certainly we will be. It's just too good a spectacle to go another decade without seeing.

Trivia: The unprecedentedly great O-ring erosion on STS 41-B, the tenth space shuttle flight, was ultimately determined to have been caused by a new leak-check procedure which tested how well the joints held when eroded by an air jet of twice the pressure. Source: The Challenger Launch Decision: Risky Technology, Culture, and Deviance at NASA, Diane Vaughan.

Currently Reading: City On A Grid: How New York Became New York, Gerard Koeppel.

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