The Christmas Gnome

As I pulled into the driveway, the tall box on the porch caught my eye. I wasn’t expecting a delivery, so this was a pleasant surprise.

And what a surprise it was – a Christmas Gnome. I giggled with delight. And continue to smile every time I see his hat, nose, and mittens. What a fun gift.

Gnomes can be traced back to early Northern European folklore. They go by different names in different countries – Nisse in Norway, Tomte in Sweden – and have slightly different “jobs” depending on where they live, but most agree they are helpers to their human families.

These nature spirits have evolved from the earliest depictions of ugly troll-like figures into the loveable short, stocky figures with pointed red caps and long white beards we know today.  

House Gnomes are those that live in or under the house. Although mischievous at times, they are very protective of children and animals. In Norway, on Christmas Eve, children leave a bowl of porridge by the front door hoping the gnomes will visit and bring presents.

The Garden Gnome first appeared in Germany. They like living in rural areas and have been known to give the farmers helpful advice with crops and animal maintenance. These gnomes think of themselves as guardians of nature and animals and can be fiercely protective of both.

Whether from Sweden, Germany, or the United States, all gnomes have a few common traits. They often live to the grand age of 400 years and are family focused. Gnomes can travel through the earth easily, similar to how humans walk on top of the soil. They prefer shady areas and often move around after dark because if the sun’s rays are too strong, the gnomes may turn to stone. 

Although mostly kind to humans, gnomes are secretive. They keep the exact location of their burrows a secret and never teach humans their gnome language.

My love of gnomes began years ago with the purchase of my first Thomas Clark gnome figurine. That is an odd word to describe his beautifully detailed sculptures. Over the years, gifts have often had a gnome theme. Not in the tacky bright colored gnomes tucked under every bush in my garden, but in a way that is a tribute to their folklore and the protection of the Little House on the Big Hill. 

The whimsical creatures make me smile. This year’s gift of the Christmas Gnome will live on because of the base – a Dwarf Alberta Spruce that I will plant in the spring. 

This slowing-growing evergreen may reach 12 feet tall, but it will take years. I expect it only to grow a few inches each year. I plan to give it a home in a large container. I will need to wrap netting around the dense needles to protect it from the deer – you would think my garden gnomes would help with this protection, but I’ll wrap it to be safe.

From the gnomes, the pup, and all the creatures of my garden – Merry Christmas to all, and to all, a good night.