The Gnome Home

Heart Status: Sleepy

On iTunes: Crazy Love by Van Morrison

When I was eight or so, I developed this thing for gnomes.

Actually, I think I really developed a thing for Smurfs, but my innate stubbornness prevailed over my common sense. I refused to be like all the other girls, schlepping Smurfette around in their tote bags. I would be unique (or maybe my parents were just cheap and didn't want to spring for the blue guys). I would have a gnome.

At the same little shop where tiny, blue-skinned and white-trousered Smurf figurines were sold, so were slightly tinier, vanilla-skinned and purple-panted gnomes. I proudly brought mine home and made a house for him in a shoe box.

As an only child in constant need of entertainment, I've always had an overactive imagination. It often manifests itself in unfortunate ways. One of my earliest remembrances involves a serious switching I received after picking all of the yellow M&M's out of a jumbo sized bag so that I could create a yellow brick road in my bedroom. I set it up just so on my pristine white carpet.

The mistake was trying to walk on it.

My hyperactive imagination and I soon grew dissatisfied with my little gnome's Stride Rite shoe box, so I developed a plan. I would appeal to my parents for a dollhouse. I'd always harboured a secret desire for one, and now seemed like a perfect time to ask. Not for me, of course. For my gnome.

My dad rose to the challenge. He was and still is quite talented when it comes to crafting furniture and the like. We spoke at length regarding my ideas for the Gnome Home. We built it together, meaning I sat on a stool in his shop and watched him do the work. A tall, slim cardboard box was magically transformed after being sprayed with several coats of yellow lacquer, given a pitched roof, and graced with a tiny cut out door.

But when I placed my gnome on the ground and put his house down over him, it went rather dark inside. My hand didn't exactly fit through the front door, so I couldn't really reach him to move him around. So he was stuck, frozen like the figurine he was.

This happens to people sometimes. We look around at our lives and decide they aren't enough. We surround ourselves with things, thinking bigger is better, when often times bigger leaves us alone and in the dark. We're hurt by people and decide it's just easier to isolate ourselves behind closed doors, staying frozen instead of choosing to interact.

My dad and I came up with a solution for the Gnome Home. We extended the tiny single door into two double doors that stood open all the time. We suspended an electric Christmas candle bulb from a socket in the ceiling to lighten things up. My mom imprinted the words, "Gnome Home, Welcome" over the entryway in calligraphy. Different types of figurines fit inside - I even caved and bought a Smurfette.

I was happier. I'm pretty sure my gnome was, too.

Friendships are meant to enrich our lives. But if you're hurt by someone, you might make the choice to isolate yourself. Instead of setting boundaries with the next new friend or for your existing relationships, you might throw up walls that exclude everyone. It can be dark. It can be lonely. It can feel like being encased in a block of ice.

Sometimes letting the light back in is all it takes. Open the door a little wider, offer a kind word to a stranger, accept people who are different from you - all those things can set you on a path to a friendship you might not expect.

And it sure beats the heck out of living in the dark.


  1. Aw...this was both fun and inspirational.

    And I can totally see you as a woman collecting gnomes.

  2. Now I want a Gnome. :) I had a few Smurfs & still love them to this day. My daughter does not. I never had a Smurfette, nor did I want one. Hmmm. Wonder what that means?

    As for the friendship stuff. I've been hurt. More than once (and recently). It would be so easy to live in the dark but I choose to let the light in. Life's a better place with light.

    I totally LOVE the yellow brick road story. Such a smart girl you were & still are. Thanks for sharing your great memories.

  3. I'm sorry that you never succummed to the smurfs. I have the collection on DVD if you'd like to enjoy them now. =) Um, I'm glad you let me in.. because remember when you almost didn't?

  4. This was so beautifully said. Reading your stories makes me miss you so much!

  5. You know I'm a dollhouse freak so this post went right to my heart.

    We are kindred spirits. If you're ever in NJ, come on over and we can play! I've got 3 completed dollhouses and one half-built in my basement, and tons of furniture, etc.

    Lovely post! PS My sister had the little smurf figurines.

  6. How did I not see this post when you posted it? I love you even more now, if that were possible.


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