We have no Christmas traditions. There's a long list of why this is; differing religious and spiritual standpoints, not living near family and not having much family to begin with, and just simply not being "traditional" people. Christmas evening I was sitting at my sewing machine while my Beloved played on the computer. Earlier in the evening, my daughter had said something about gnomes or elves or something. I don't remember exactly what she said but it made me remember something else.
Last Christmas my Beloved had just returned from a long and drudging job he'd been on. The cupboards were bare. The grocery store isn't my favorite place and if he's not home, I don't cook. Since it was Christmas, everything was closed. The only thing open was the restaurant at the truck stop. So we went in. They had one cook and one waitress and a motley group of patrons. We waited what seemed an eternity for our food. The waitress apologized several times but seriously, what else did we have to do? At the counter was a man dressed like a cross-cultural gnome. He had a pointy gnome hat, Osh Kosh overalls, an ornately carved staff, and a bone pipe choker. Some of the other patrons looked like extras for Deliverance. The part that amused me the most was that they kept looking at us like we were the weirdoes. We are, but that's beside the point. The food finally arrived and wow - it was absolutely delicious. I rarely eat everything on my plate but I didn't leave a scrap that time. I just couldn't stop myself.
So this Christmas evening I brought up the lack of Christmas traditions and that we should make our own. I asked if he remembered the gnome. He laughed and said he'd forgotten all about it. As I talked about it, he remembered how good the food was and the silly fun we had. I asked if he wanted to go. Now. That would be our new Christmas tradition. We'll go to the truck stop, eat like pigs, enjoy the cast of characters, and with any luck the Gnome will show up. So off we went.
The place looked exactly the same, cheesy Mardi Gras posters still lined the walls but they had more staff and customer this time around. And I really was the weirdest looking person in the place this time too. A group of seniors sitting at the table nearby were discussing which area casinos had the best buffets and whether or not they needed to protect the water pipes at home. The waitress came over to get our orders and I ordered the same thing I got last time. Once again, it was awesomely delicious and I cleaned my plate. They had gumbo on the soup and salad bar. It was pretty good but couldn't hold a candle to my friend Marsha's gumbo. She is truly the reigning Queen of the Gumbo. Customers came and went but there was no sight of the Gnome. I giggled all through dinner.
We told the waitress why we were there. She thought the story was a hoot but instantly recognized the Gnome in the story. She said he always dresses like that and was a regular. I'd decided that if he had shown up, I would try to strike up a conversation with him. I wanted to know why he dresses like a Gnome. What do those pieces mean to him? I don't know how he would take being quizzed by someone dressed like a Pirate but there was a chance he'd think it was funny too. Maybe next time. As we were leaving the waitress called out, "See you next year!" Yes, yes you will!