A Gnome and a Pixie: A Holiday Story

The girl with the adorable pixie smile and perfectly straight hair and the accidental garden gnome girl (me) who is a foot taller with the curly hair. We are exactly 5 months and 6 days apart.

A holiday story for Maddie, but you can read it, too.

Once upon a time there were two little girls who were only 5 months apart in age but almost 15 inches different in height.  The tall girl had curly hair that puffed up and made her look like a giant garden gnome. The smaller girl with perfectly straight hair had adorable dimples and apple cheeks when she smiled.

They lived right across the street from one another and when they couldn’t talk on the phone, they would wave hand signals to each other from their front windows.

On a boring summer day when the girls were picking daisies, ok, dandelions in the tall girl’s front yard, a moving van arrived. Someone was moving into the house next door and suddenly the day looked much more promising.

They waited like a welcome committee, on the sidewalk while the moving men hustled furniture and boxes into the house. Soon a car arrived and pulled into the driveway. The girls looked at each other hoping that the new neighbors might include another girl they could invite to play.

The car door opened and out came grandpa dressed in his Sunday best. And then out came grandma with white gloves, a pocket-book and a Sunday dress complete with hat. They looked over at the two-girl-welcome-committee and without smiling said hello.  Only hello didn’t sound like any word the girls had heard before.

Because her family watched The Man From UNCLE every week, the tall gnome girl knew right away that these new neighbors were Russian spies. The girls looked at each other with some seriousness. This was important. They would have to tell their parents right away. Only their parents didn’t care at all.  It seems the new neighbors were not as interesting to grown-ups.

The tall girl explained about spies from what she’d learned from the UNCLE show to the other girl and they both decided they would watch the couple and spy right back. They used the front hedge and set up shop. The girl with the perfectly straight hair had all sorts of things to make the hideout comfortable including a tin cabinet once used as a doll kitchen. The tall girl brought Millbrook White Bread and Oreos because they would have to eat, wouldn’t they?

The two girls spent weeks in that hideout watching the comings and goings of the old spy couple until it was time for school to begin again. Then the girls got really busy with important in 3rd grade and lost interest in watching the elderly spy couple until the holidays came around.

Both girls would help light their family menorahs for Hanukkah and watch from their front windows as other neighbors decorated for Christmas. Both girls used to love to walk up and down the street looking into the houses that had Christmas Trees so they could be dazzled.  But the spy neighbor house was always dark at night.

Very close to Christmas one dark late afternoon the spy neighbor’s house suddenly roared to life with color.  The holiday tree was visible in the picture window, filled with bright ornaments and lights. The porch door was covered with a big wreath dressed in a giant bow. Lights were strung around the big windows.

Mr. and Mrs. Spy came out the door as the girls were staring and brought a plate filled with tiny, beautifully decorated holiday cookies. They wished the tongue-tied girls a happy holiday and smiled.  They told the two girls that if they needed some hot chocolate while watching their house from the fort in the hedge, they would be happy to oblige along with more cookies. And then the Russian-Spy-No-More neighbors left to go deliver more cookies to the other houses on the street.

And that, Maddie, is how your mom and I learned that not only were we terrible spies but that Latvian gingerbread holiday cookies are one of the best things in the universe.

Happy holidays to Maddie, and to all our GF Canteen friends.  Here’s to a New Year filled with a treasure of great gluten-free goodies.

Joyeux Nouvel An.

Craving a ginger cookie? Try one of these gluten-free goodies:




  1. That was so suspenseful! When I thought you’d zig — you zagged!
    I was sure there was going to be a pair of cement shoes at the end – or that you and Maddie were going to find out that the would-be spies were your long-lost grandparents & you and she were, like, cousins or something.
    Promise to tell more stories? I loved that!

    P.S. Nice dress.

    • GlutenFreeCanteen says:

      Our mom’s were pregnant at the same time so we always kind of imagined we were sisters, though the long lost grandparent thing is cool. my poor mom had to start making my dresses cause they were all a little too short…. Thanks, Nicole. I heart you and those gingerbread people. I still have more dough I’m rolling out today. (peeps – Nicole’s recipe is sublime).

  2. judi friedman says:

    Thank you for the gift of this beautiful story…..you are incredible.
    Love you,
    the girl with the adorable pixie smile!