Friday, October 25 marked the 13th anniversary of my mother’s passing. My brother came up from Ohio to spend the weekend in Michigan. We got to see him a couple days, then he met up with his best friend, and then he stopped by and saw my dad. He arrived in Michigan on the Thursday and spent the night at my house. Thursday evening, Sam and I took him out to dinner at our favorite steak place. Dinner was filled with good conversation and laughter. Friday evening, I had to DJ a preschool Halloween Party, but we had plans for early in the day Friday.
Growing up, we often visited Frankenmuth, MI. “Little Bavaria” it is often called. There is a lot of German Heritage in this town. My grandmother (mom’s mom) was of German decent and Frankenmuth was a nice day trip. We would go to the Bavarian Inn and have a chicken dinner. My great aunt (grandma’s sister) always went to Zender’s across the street. We travelled there often as kids. One of my earliest memories was going to Frankenmuth and stopping at this country store and getting a dill pickle. I also recall one trip where we got there, ate dinner, and walked outside to see it snowing like crazy! I remember my grandma, grandpa, aunt, mom, dad, me and my brother all crammed into my grandpa’s Buick driving home on Southbound 75 doing about 3 miles an hour! That was one scary drive!!
Anyway, Friday, we took my brother to Frankenmuth (which is literally 5-10 minutes from my house now). The last time he was there, he went with my dad. I guess they walked around and hit some of the shops, but never went to one in particular – Bronner’s Christmas Wonderland – The World’s Largest Christmas Store. My dad was never really a fan of that place, so we told Chris that we’d all go together.
Sam and I go there every year and we buy an ornament for our Christmas tree. It’s a tradition that she has had for a long time, and we have continued it. When she bought the house, she bought a “new home” ornament. When we got engaged, we bought an engagement ornament. When we got married, we bought a marriage ornament. This year, we needed to go and get our “baby on the way” ornament. They will personalize your ornaments, too! They literally have an ornament for everything!!
People come from all over the country – and the world – to visit Bronner’s. There are some very neat pictures of the many celebrities that have stopped in to check it out. It really is a magical place. Along with the thousands of ornaments, they have trees, stockings, and Christmas villages. My mom used to have a village she set up every year, but I am not sure what happened to it. This year, they had some Halloween villages (one from the Addams Family, one from the Munsters, and one from the Nightmare Before Christmas). They have many pieces for the various villages, too (Peanuts, a Christmas Story, Christmas Vacation, etc…)! We spent about 3-4 hours walking through.
They have many Precious Moments figurines, as well as others (like super heroes, Peanuts, Star Wars, Disney, and more). And if you need a nutcracker – they have plenty!
It really was a fun time walking through there. Sam and I enjoy doing it, although this year was a bit rougher on her as she is 24 weeks pregnant!!
After our walk through Bronner’s, we grabbed lunch at one of my favorite places in Frankenmuth – The Frankenmuth Brewery.
This was where Sam and I had one of our first dates. We ate outside on the balcony overlooking the river. I have always been a fan of craft beers and there are some favorites that are brewed here. The Christmastown Ale is a personal favorite. This time I chose the Pumpkin Chucker, which was very good, and in season. It was made from pumpkins from one of the local pumpkin farms. Great eats, good beer, and good times with family!
(If you plan to visit – be sure to grab some cheese at the Cheese Haus and shop at the River Place shops)
Despite being busy throughout most of the weekend, I am so glad that I was able to get a day with my brother and Sam. I think what made it extra special was that we spent the day in Frankenmuth. I have some great childhood memories there, I have had some very fun times with my sons there, Sam and I had our first real date there, AND I asked her to marry me while riding in a horse-drawn carriage there. It’s a very special place for me.