Friday 5 July 2024

Me vs The Duckening: A Gnomian Wars Update

As some of you may remember, a number of years ago I launched what eventually came to be known as the Gnomian Wars, which started innocently and ended up with my mother unwittingly signaling to our neighbourhood that we were swingers. We are not, but the gnomes indicated otherwise.

The short version is that when I learned that my mother loathed garden gnomes with the fiery passion of a thousand suns, it became my purpose and joy in life to make sure she was provided with as many gnomes as possible, usually without her knowing about it until it was too late and she found them tucked into corners and under pillows. This escalated quickly, as anyone who knows me would expect, with gnomes travelling back and forth between my house and my parents house in a long-distance game of hot potato.

The Gnome on the Thone
A thoughtful gift from my father
This went on for years, and continues to this day. For example, I have to tip my hat to my parents most recent offensive, where they painstakingly broke into a parcel we had shipped to their house (the company didn't do rural delivery), inserted a tattered, well-worn gnome, and then flawlessly resealed the package to hand off to us. We had no idea we'd brought home a parasite until we began unpacking the box. 

But I digress. 

The next leap of strategic genius came when I started giving gnomes to my mom as gifts. 

Here’s your mother’s day gnome. Don’t throw it away. I love you! Merry Christmas, here’s a Gnome! Even my dad has gotten in on it, buying my mom gnomes as gifts and garden accessories. It’s more than I could have ever hoped for.

Eventually I buckled down and really turned the tides of war by bringing the kids into the thinktank. They were more committed to the mayhem than I had thought possible, and they took no prisoners. They brought a level of inspiration to the endeavor that makes me proud as a parent. The planning, the execution, and the general understanding that pushing the limits of one’s Machiavellian creativity is how we become great, never ceases to bring a smile to my face. My oldest even painted and glazed a foot and a half tall gnome as an art project just so she could give it to her grandmother as a gift. It’s eyes look into your soul and find nothing but fault and it's smile could shake the confidence of a Viking. Gold star to my cunning and crafty daughter.

As the years have marched forward, we have grown and evolved into a well oiled gnome-deployment machine, spreading gnomes of joy throughout my parents home.  But over those same years, something has become glaringly apparent to me: for reasons that will take years longer than I have to unpack, there are certain items that trigger this reverse kleptomania in our family, and it’s not just gnomes. 

Items like ugly amazon gift bags, or tragically ugly rabbit-themed serving platters seem to leave us helpless to resist the draw of sneaking them into hiding spots around each others houses like packrats hiding treasure. Except in this case the treasure is junk, and we want them to find it...but only after we’ve left so that they can’t just traffic it back into our luggage before we leave, like drug dealers trying to smuggle cocaine across the border on the backs of the innocent.

Which brings me finally to the current iteration of this conflict: Ducks. 

Gnomes are great. I love a good gnome, and they've served me well during the war, but gnomes are a bit obvious these days. So we've branched out to ducks...very, very small ducks that lend themselves extremely well to being hidden in volume around a home. They tuck in to all the nooks and crannies that wouldn’t fit a traditional gnome, and they just sit there, watching you as you discover them one by one, their beady dead eyes mirroring your dying hope that maybe there were only a couple of them hidden around your house.

But there are more than one or two, aren’t there mom? So far, I'm aware that you’ve found 37. 

I would tell you how many more you have to find, but I don’t want to. The kids won’t tell you either; this was their idea, carried out in secret under your nose. I played my role as distraction well, and they knew to hide them where it wouldn’t be obvious until we left. 

Because while you think you have won some battles, make no mistake, the kids and I will win this war….