Sunday, July 17, 2011

A 70th Birthday Celebration and Trip Down Memory Lane: Frankenmuth!

This was a banner year for birthdays in my family.  In January I was in Michigan celebrating my father's 80th birthday, and last weekend I was back again for my mom's 70th.  In both cases, my sister Katrinka, who is probably the most organized member of our family, was the logistical genius that made things happen.  For this celebration she had the great idea of bringing my parents, sisters (plus families) and I together (brothers Jim and Jean couldn't make this one with their families) to a place that we used to nag our mother to visit incessantly as children.

Frankenmuth was settled by German Lutheran immigrants in the 1800s and brings a bit of Bavarian flavor to an area where you wouldn't expect it.  It's a little hard to pull off since there are no mountains to complete the picture, but there is plenty of Christmas glitz.  The tourism of the town centers around the entrepreneurship of two families the Zenders and the Bronners.  The Zenders created two German restaurants across the street from one another in the center of town, Zenders and the Bavarian Inn (which boasts a life-sized glockenspiel that does a show based on the legend of the Pied Piper every three hours). The Bronners, on the other hand, had the idea of selling Christmas before the age of Christmas tree stores.  When we were kids they had three stores, but now they've consolidated them into one mega-Christmas store with every ornament, outdoor display and Santa-themed thing you can possible imagine.

In case anyone out there is looking for inspiration for trimming this year's tree, I've put together a little montage to help you out.  Check it out:

My personal favorite of all the Christmas ornament displays.  Something new for Say Yes to the Dress!

Anyone up for a beer can tree?

In case you'd like something for your bathroom, here's purple and pink!

Car lovers should love this one.  Note the license plate and hub cap highlights.

Nothing says Christmas like a fake child dressed up like a flower between a "tree" tree and a snowflake tree

I made my niece Daisy pose next to this tree for hunters that might be equally suitable at the NRA's office

Anyone whose appetite for ballet was whetted by viewing Black Swan might read some sort of dark symbolism into this upside-down ballerina tree
We stayed at the Bavarian Inn Hotel (complete with five pools, an arcade and underground miniature golf!), shopped for all manner of Christmas knick-knacks (most appropriate for me, perhaps, since I'll be missing American Christmas this year while in Jordan) made pretzels, rode in a horse-drawn carriage and ate lots of German food.  The reaction of my nieces Tigist and Daisy and nephew Alex confirmed my realization that Frankenmuth is HUGELY loved by kids, though the older set might need to lower the bar on expectations based on their childhood memories a wee bit.
Here's the pretzel-rolling crew -- Katrinka, Tigist, Alex, Donna, Brian, me and Daisy-- hard at work in the basement of the Bavarian Inn

Our favorite restaurant in Michigan when we were kids and site of my mom's birthday bash -- the Bavarian Inn
But though Frankenmuth might be most fully enjoyed by kids with big imaginations, continued fascinations with Christmas, and the desire to swim in all five pools, it was also a fun way for three generations to help my mom celebrate a landmark birthday.  Happy birthday Karine Siplon!
My mom (sitting between my nephew Alex and my dad) receiving her birthday cake.

1 comment:

  1. Love the pictures. Happy birthday to your mom!! It looks like it was quite a good time. Thanks for the family update too. Much love and many happy returns of the day to Karine!