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Holiday Travel on the St. Croix Riverbanks

Where Treetops Glisten

Midwest Living magazine, December 2010

  I’ve been fortunate to write for Midwest Living magazine for nearly a decade, mostly as a behind-the-scenes travel scout keeping my editors updated on what’s new and interesting in Wisconsin. But every once in a while, I get to write a feature—and to this day, Where Treetops Glisten remains my favorite Midwest Living assignment. It was just before the winter holidays in 2009, and the magazine sent me to the Wisconsin – Minnesota border to partake in Christmas festivities along the St. Croix river. I felt as if I’d been asked to slip inside the pages of a storybook and write about everything I saw, felt and—best of all—ate. On the last day of the trip, before the crack of dawn on a frigid full-moon morning, I had the privilege of attending a traditional Swedish Lucia Dagen service in a candle-lit log church. Two years later, I wrote another Christmas feature for Midwest Living, this time after a trip to Manistee, Michigan for the annual Victorian Sleighbell Parade and Old Christmas Weekend. It was even more Norman Rockwellian than the Stillwater trip, with all manner of small-town productions, pageants and cook-offs. Throughout the weekend, I became an honorary citizen while Midwest Living’s photographer prowled about, documenting everything (at one point I got a call on my cell to look out my corner hotel window; the photographers were waving at me from the roof of the building across the street, and they needed me to move one of the lamps). The only unfortunate thing was the snow never came, as you can see from the pictures—a huge bummer. But holiday spirits never flagged among the folks of Manistee, so mine didn’t, either. —Maggie Ginsberg is an award-winning freelance writer in Madison, Wisconsin

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