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Gnomes and Birthdays: A Personal Tale - Decognomes

Gnomes and Birthdays: A Personal Tale - Decognomes


Today is a special day, a day that marks not only my birthday but also an opportunity to share a personal story that intertwines with the magic of literature. While pondering how to blend these two occasions, I considered various angles to approach this blog. From birthday-themed books to wish lists, I contemplated several ideas. However, it was a cherished childhood gift that held the key to this narrative, a gift that would set the stage for a lifelong fascination with gnomes. So, on this day, I want to regale you with the enchanting tale of Wil Huygen's "Gnomes" and how it has been a constant presence in my life.

A Special Birthday Gift

On my 8th birthday, a thoughtful gift from my father forever etched the world of gnomes into my heart. It was Wil Huygen's "Gnomes," a book that opened up a magical realm where the imagination soared. At that age, I knew gnomes were creatures of folklore, but that didn't deter my fascination. Instead, I spent countless hours in the garden, hoping to catch a glimpse of these mythical beings. The book itself was a fictional field guide, handwritten notes documenting gnome history and habits. It became my cherished companion, its pages dog-eared and its binding loosened by my eager exploration.

The World of Gnomes

At the time, I was captivated by the Nickelodeon cartoon "The World of David the Gnome," and my father's gift seemed like a gateway to that very world. As a young enthusiast, I delved into the book, memorizing passages and sharing gnome trivia with anyone willing to listen. It was a love affair that grew as I transitioned from childhood to adolescence.

A Move to the Gnome Homeland

A significant chapter unfolded just after my 17th birthday when I embarked on a journey to the Netherlands for an intensive language study. I packed lightly, but one book made the cut - "Gnomes." Little did I know that this decision would lead to a serendipitous discovery. Upon arrival, a Dutch friend noticed my well-worn book and informed me that Wil Huygen, the author of "Gnomes," lived nearby. The revelation was astonishing; I had moved to the very homeland of these beloved creatures. My connection to the gnomes felt even more profound as I began learning Dutch, and one of the first books I read in my newfound language was a simplified version of "Gnomes" meant for very young readers. The journey was not just linguistic but also a continuation of my love affair with these mythical beings.

The Wider World of Gnomes

It's worth noting that "Gnomes" was initially published in English in 1977, where it enjoyed over a year as a New York Times bestseller. Due to its popularity, many copies have found their way onto library shelves through donations. Each time I encounter a donated copy, I'm drawn to it, tempted to 'adopt' it, but I resist. My hope is that these books will find new homes and inspire others as they did me. "Gnomes" has touched countless lives, sparking a sense of wonder and curiosity that transcends age and language.


On this birthday, as I reflect on the intersections of life, literature, and whimsy, I celebrate the enduring magic of "Gnomes." This beloved book has been a constant companion on my journey, reminding me that even in the ordinary, the extraordinary can be found. As I blow out the candles, I'm reminded that birthdays are not just about marking the passage of time but also about the stories and memories that weave the tapestry of our lives. So, here's to gnomes, birthdays, and the enchanting tales that make our lives all the more magical.

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