The tree.
A Christmas tale

By Jenny Axvi Greifensköld


Once upon a time there was a gnoma, a tomta, named Iskra and a gnome, tomte, named Oskar. They were very busy all year around. They were creating and manufacturing a lot of Christmas gifts and they also guarded folk´s houses. They looked after the grounds. In Sweden, the land of the north, the gnome is called tomten after the word for grounds, which is namely "tomten". A long time after this fore-time the gnomes are still called tomten.

All the little tomtenissar, girl and boy gnomes of the family, took part of the work. If they weren't occupied with playing with all the toys that the human´s children left behind in the corners. If the toys were broken the tomtenissar just repaired them. Mum, Tum, Sum, Gum, Rum, Hum, Lum, Kum, Num, Fum, Pum, Zum were their names. So many. As many as the months of the human calendar up there in the north.

Though the tomtenissar were such tiny little figures and somewhat fuzzy the could be very useful. They could repair rocking-horses, clean up in the play-house and in the nurseries. They could do a lot of small things that were hardly to be seen, like tidying up after the mice who lived in the attic and cellar. In the small narrow mouse-paths and nests where the cat couldn't find the way, the small gnome girls and boys crept gathering the trash.

Oskar and Iskra made up the house and the garden. Windswept branches and leaves disappeared pop! quickly just before they touched the ground.

Fantastic! Everybody was so busy. Imagine all the Christmas gifts that were to be ready for Christmas. Knit, carpenter, sew napery's and curtains. Household utensils like whips, wooden trays, riddles, bowls and wooden toys. And how quickly it went. Iskra and Oskar and all the children almost didn't sleep during the year. But on Christmas second, third and fourth day they went to sleep 24 hours a day. All the other days of the year they only slept for three hours every day. Gnomes like all other fairies get their sleep only during the day. In the night they work. Gnomes don't have to get as much rest as people need.

When christmas arrived all the family used to sing together their favorite song:

"Christmas come with us and Santa claus
Both big and small

Christmas with love
That is what we want
But if we can´t
We get help
in a special way
Gnomes everywhere
cleaning up floor and stair

Christmas table is here
with garlands and flowers
Red is right
Red is bright"

Out in the woods not far from the people's house grew an enormous oak. It was many hundreds years old. The tree had grown very broad and bulging down close to the earth. Like a snails house it looked. A little bit up the branches were bent and winding roughly up to heaven. In the stem near ground a big hole was seen. This stem-hole was the home of the gnomes. They had two stories with many small rooms. Every little gnome had it's own room and their parents had a big bedroom. The family had lived here for hundreds of years. The family was very old, many hundred years. Even the small gnomes were old. A gnome is not grown up until it is about 200 years.

The tree was a wonderful home. But once it was not too wonderful. People came to the forest with saws and axis with the mission to cut for timber. When they found the oak, they immediately understood that the tree was something special. Firstly, it was impossible to cut it, because it was too big, too voluminous. Secondly, they heard a soft sound from the leaves. "This is a home, this is a home, don't you dare to cut, this is earth's hat!".

The people listened to the language of the leaves and thought deeply about this. They couldn't touch the tree with their saws and axis. And this was their luck. Otherwise the gnomes had disappeared from their home and maybe from this planet. So nowadays there are gnomes almost everywhere. Even in the trees.

©Jenny Axvi Greifensköld 1999


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