Once upon a time, a man named Mike Kittredge started a small candle business called Yankee Candle, which proved that if you melt it and fragrance it (wax), they will come (and buy).

Mick, Mike's son, chose to make a line of all white candles for his class project. These candles he named Kringle sold well at a local store and, voila, The Kringle Candle Company was born. Two years have passed and 22-year-old Mick Kittredge III holds the reigns to a wildly inviting, hugely successful campus of interrelated retail businesses in Bernardston.

Situated on a large stretch of scenic farmland, this picturesque village of buildings houses The Kringle Candle Company, The Farm Table Restaurant, The Chocolate Cottage and The Christmas Barn.

Dilemma: where to go first? If you've been smart enough to book a table at the very busy Farm Table Restaurant, I suggest you begin there. If you begin there, you can eat twice as much knowing that you'll walk some of it off shopping and touring the rest of this wonderful property (which includes a courtyard holiday marketplace complete with a roaring fireplace).

The Christmas Barn has three floors, with two housing festive, high-quality holiday decorations and lodge-themed furnishings. The lower level, whose signage promises "Lots of toys for good little girls and boys," resembles Santa's workshop.

The Chocolate Cottage feels like Grandma's house if Grandma was a chocolatier.

The Farm Table Restaurant is housed in what was an 1800s farmhouse, and while the stately white clapboards give testimony to its previous life, nothing will prepare you for the glorious transformation of the interiors. The walls are wrapped in antique barn board, the wooden furnishings are handiworks of a New Hampshire craftsman; there are open beams, a giant roaring fire, burnished wide floorboards and chandeliers made from wine bottles. There's a large bar perfect for relaxing, sipping and even dining.

Chef Brent Menke transforms simple ingredients with an alchemist's touch and everything on these menus is a must eat.

Hit-the-spot starters including the warm pecan-wrapped goat cheese surrounded by beetroots, arugula and splash of lemon vinaigrette. The restaurant's field-grown butternut squash shines in a warm quinoa salad loaded with parsnips, apples and a perfumed maple vinaigrette. The house burger is taken to new heights and this beauty is made from house-ground brisket and short ribs of beef encased in a fresh-baked brioche bun. Homemade catsup and hot, fresh-made potato crisps dress the plate. Fresh vegetables accompany a hanger steak relaxing in a spoon-slurping sauce of peppercorns, shallots and garlic and oven-roasted fingerlings. Everyone had room for the lightest, deeply-flavored fresh pumpkin cheesecake on the planet. We practically licked the caramel off the plate when the last heavenly morsel was devoured. Ho, ho, ho, indeed.

The businesses are open every day at 220 South St., Bernardston. Visit www.kringlecandle.com and www.kringlefarmtable.com.