Going Gnome for the Holidays

Gnomes have origins in French and New Latin, yet their most recent travels and tribulations (perhaps reincarnations) span the globe. Their longevity both holiday-tied and tried. Gnomes have adopted as many nuances and meanings as home, both of genesis and recently found. Like a flexible dough, capable of pushes, prods, and pleadings, gnomes abound. Primed for four-season weeding and originally thought to live underground, gnomes are sprouting everywhere. They multiply in yards. They dance an unmade waltz. They even score touchdowns. Oddly reminiscent of Snow White and her seven dwarfs, the sweet little beings have replicated and found a way to slide into spontaneous play. For all holiday reasons, gnomes are of the season. Spotted in candy cane stripes. Curious collectibles dressed in snowy whites.

They appear in all forms. As life-sized bearded blow-ups in front of suburban four-bedroom, two-bath homes. In city-windows behind wrought irons bars. To the left of an Irish bar. Peeking from a chimney. On one-sized-fits-all fleece pajamas with bunny ears and floppy feet. They come dressed in everything from plaid and tartan to gingham and lace. The gnomes are both fashionably dressed and leaving their trace. Typically, better dressed than cocktail party and office party attendants. Also capable of claiming a better showing than office party attendance. In a Jewish deli. Atop Christmas trees. On enamel pendants and chains of various pure-metal degrees. They differ from the leprechaun, of course. Not in search of pots of gold. Unexpected creators instead. Cha Ching. There’s a big market for this sort of thing.

They’ve overtaken spaces both physical and digital. In Zoom backgrounds. A great room roundabout. Favorite tile tops. Favicons. Anything that sticks. They’re everyone’s new favorite adornment. Eager to be (and easily) found on everything. Labeled and loved. Stocked and stacked. All gnomes tracked. Reminiscent of the trolls with neon orange hair. I’d rub them in my palms heads up. Create friction while thumbs never tired. The trolls never retired. Gnomes are up, down, all around. Spotted on exterior and interior spaces. Leaving traces everywhere. I cannot think. I can think only of gnomes. My how far they’ve roamed. At home on mantels and made-for-TV Hallmark Specials, they’re everywhere.

Of Pillows and sheets. Stitched on shoelaces and socks. Woven into weighted blankets and fleece pullovers. Sneaking shelf space as Build a Bear imposters. No one needs to be told what a gnome is, they’re instantly recognizable. Famous for flexible denominations. Sentimental beasts that represent, in part, frivolity within reach and offer lessons to teach. Also, currency generating. Ready. Set. Show me the gnome.



With gnomes literally everywhere, it seems only fair to serve up a heaping serving of some gnome-seasoned bingo. Ready. Set. Gnome. 

Jen Schneider is an educator who lives, writes, and works in small spaces throughout Pennsylvania. Recent works include A Collection of Recollections, Invisible Ink, On Habits & Habitats, and Blindfolds, Bruises, and Breakups.