Posted in Christmas, photography, travel

Christmas wonderland

blogIMG_9801That calendar on my wall tells me it’s December already. I know it sounds so very trite, but honestly, where DID the year 2019 go?

Regardless of my incredulousness at it being the last month of the year, that calendar also shows me there are only 19 days until Christmas.  Yikes! This empty nest Mama needs to get her Christmas preparations jump-started.  

The empty nest will be filled to the brim with three grown up offspring, their spouses, three adorable grandchildren, and a grand-doggy for several days over the Christmas holiday. And my heart is so very happy about that!

But there is MUCH to do – hauling out the holly, illuminating the outside of our country home, decking out the halls, adorning the Christmas tree, menu planning for meals (carefully due to one family member with celiac disease who must eat gluten-free), grocery shopping, gift wrapping, and devising Christmas fun activities for the family to enjoy.

Thankfully, three items are already checked off my list – the Christmas cards have been signed, sealed, and are in the mail to be delivered, gifts have been purchased, and Papa handled the majority of the outside decorations.

Yet Mama’s plate is full of plans to make our home this year a Christmas wonderland, especially for the grandchildren.

But while I embrace this blessed season, I still have a couple more stories and pictures to share about our autumn trip to Michigan. Appropriately, the subject is Christmas, “the most wonderful time of the year.”

When we stopped at the quaint town of Frankenmuth, MI, our goal was to visit the world’s largest Christmas store, Bronner’s CHRISTmas Wonderland, which has been in business since 1945.

blogIMG_9802And what a wonderland it truly is! The store is open 361 days a year and is gigantic (they claim it’s the size of one and a half football fields!) and filled with everything you can imagine that has to do with the Christmas holiday.

I’ve shopped in many Christmas shops, but I’ve never been anywhere that comes close to Bronner’s with 50,000 decorations and gifts in 15 store sections.

The half-mile lane leading into this huge store is lined with thousands of lights and outdoor Christmas displays everywhere you look. We arrived in the morning as the store opened, so I can only imagine what a spectacular sight it would be to view the lights at night (dusk until midnight).

Onsite adjacent to the Christmas store is the Silent Night Chapel, a replica of the original chapel in Austria where, on Christmas Eve in 1818, the well-known Christmas hymn Silent Night was first sung.  (I’ll highlight that in an upcoming post.)

Papa and I spent at least three hours just browsing, being amazed, and purchasing some gifts and special ornaments to add to our Christmas tree.

Tree ornaments are grouped by categories in some sections, by colors in other areas, and by country in yet others. And there is a large area with ornaments that can be personalized (free while you wait).

Looking for Christmas jewelry? It’s there. Nativity sets? For certain. Nutcrackers? They’ve got them. Advent calendars, wreaths, Christmas trees, stockings, garlands, ribbon, cards, angels, lighted village sets, books, linens, snow globes, figurines, lights and displays, Santa suits….you name it, Bronner’s has it.  

It’s a Christmas treasure trove and certainly puts shoppers in a merry spirit for the season no matter what time of year you visit.

Even though I have a checklist a mile long to prepare for Christmas with my family, I pause for a moment to remember our visit to that Christmas store, admire the ornaments we purchased there, and smile as we enter into the “hap-happiest season of all.”

“Perhaps the best Yuletide decoration is being wreathed in smiles.” ~E. C. McKenzie



Mama of this empty nest, I’m content to live a quiet, country life with my husband of 40+ years and to view the gorgeous sunsets off my own back yard deck. Mama to three adults and Nana to adorable grandchildren, my empty nest fills up again with noise and laughter when they all return 'home'. A former English teacher, reporter/editor, education director for a non-profit organization, and stay at home mom, I retired after a season of substitute teaching at a private academy. Now I enjoy time spent with my grandchildren and family and writing words that seem to pour out of my soul or wandering around the countryside with my camera. Foremost, my faith sustains me as I meander through the empty nest stage of life. My favorite scripture is 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18: “Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”

14 thoughts on “Christmas wonderland

  1. Hope you do not work yourself to death trying to accomplish your holiday chores. Perhaps one day the children can take over and do all the work. Ha


    1. Thanks, peggyjoan! I’m blessed that my husband is such a great helper. He’s definitely a keeper!! 😉 The kids will have to help with all of that kitchen time and they will. I’m just trying to not stress out beforehand and take time to focus on Jesus because after all, without Him we wouldn’t have a Christmas.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. The town to which my parents moved when they retired (in 1981) had a smallish Christmas store in town; the owner had been to Bonner’s many times and wanted to replicate at least a small part of it. The store, unfortunately, closed in the late 1980s when the big box stores took over the “specialness” of Christmas (and ruined it, in my opinion). My eldest son was absolutely convinced that the Santa who stood outside on weekends in December was the REAL Santa (he had decided at a young age that the mall Santas were just “helpers”, because Santa couldn’t possibly be in all the malls all the time – smart kid!). On the last year the store was open, I took the time to thank “Santa” for how well he had played his part over the years; he told me he was a friend of the owner and even his OWN KIDS didn’t know it was him. He had the knack of bringing out the best in the children (he NEVER asked them their names, always “suggested” he knew they weren’t brushing their teeth every night, or putting away their toys, etc. – because he had kids that did those exact things – and never promised to bring whatever a child asked for, but instead said he’d “do his best”). I have quite a few items (music boxes, ornaments) I purchased in that store; they remain favourites, both for quality and for the memories they invoke.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. How wonderful! It makes me sad that store had to close. It sounds like it was such a delightful place and that Santa, he must have been so very special! I so agree with you that the big box stores have definitely over commercialized Christmas. As a society, we’ve lost the meaning of the holiday which is why my family tries to focus on the ‘reason for the season’ – Jesus Christ.


      1. When my granddaughter was her in November, I sang some “real” Christmas carols to her; she’d never heard them before (because they’re no longer allowed to sing “religious” carols in schools and the radio stations don’t play them either). So sad that the true meaning of Christmas has gotten lost in the commercialization of the season.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. The picture with the angel above Joseph, Mary and baby Jesus is what I have always thought the angel looked like; bigger than life celebrating the birth of the Savior. What a special display and fun store to visit. Know you are so looking forward to all your chicks and their chicks being back in the nest for the holiday. Those are special moments to keep in your heart. Wishing you a joyous holiday with love.


  4. I love Bronner’s, having been twice (my aunt lives not too far away). We took my older children when they were 4 and 6 and we spent many hours there. I bought large, red balls that we personalized and I’ve since purchased a “family” ornament every year from them online. I love that they incorporate so many aspects of CHRISTmas there.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s truly a delightful place, isn’t it? We got some personalized ornaments for our grandchildren there when we visited. Plus I just kept finding so many items I really loved. I also love how the emphasis is on Christ in Christmas. Don’t find that too often. Thanks for reading and taking time to comment. Be blessed this Christmas season.


  5. With all you have to do, I don’t know how you fit writing in but I’m glad you did! What a special place! The sheer volume of inventory must be an extraordinary sight. How wonderful that CHRIST is the focus in the photo you posted. (Looking forward to learning more about the Silent Night chapel!) Enjoy preparing your home for your family’s arrival🎄🙏🏻.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I also loved that fact that everywhere – even on the store website – Christ’s name is capitalized. I sat down to write today’s post yesterday for a break from decorating. But my house looks like a Christmas-filled truck rolled over and dumped its contents. Got to get busy!!

      Liked by 1 person

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