Our 2009 Christmas Treasure Hunt: GNOME Strikes Again

This year, it was Peter’s turn to hide our presents and put together the Christmas treasure hunt. I’m beginning to suspect he has ties to the nefarious G.N.O.M.E., which stole my presents in 2007, and surfaced this year, having taking presents from everyone except Peter, and leaving notes like this behind:

1-gnome letter

Our first clue was a rolled-up note in my stocking, saying “David Carroll” on one side and with a Canadian flag on the other. The Canadian David Caroll? Who’s that? We googled him, and found one of the many Canadian David Carrolls in existence was the one who made the viral video “United Breaks Guitars.”

Neil and I dashed to the obvious place: our guitars, and on the back of one of them, we found this song”


Neil plunked it out on his keyboard, but neither of us recognized the tune, until we called Kelly over and she started singing “Jesus Loves Me,” along to it. Funny, I had pegged Lutherans as more of the “Silent Night” and “O Come All Ye Faithful” type, but they’re either teaching all kinds of Christian songs there, or Kelly picked it up at one of the Vacation Bible Schools. Neil returned to Google to research the song: perhaps the author’s name would be a clue, or the year it was written, or the lyrics read backwards. I just picked up on “the Bible tells me so..” and plucked Kelly’s picture bible out of the bookcase.

In there, we found two more clues: the clue to a key


and a code.

We started coming up for all sorts of rhymes for “Blotto”: auto, gateau, koto, until Peter told us to look in Kelly’s room.

There, we found Watto (the doll of the Toyardian trader, not the Toyardian trader himself) with “special delivery” taped to his butt. Neil and I puzzled over that for a while, until Peter hinted my idea that it had to do with the post was the best clue. I walked outside and in the mailbox found an envelope full of cut up pieces of paper.

And so, Neil, Kelly and I set upon trying to piece them together:


And eventually ended up with this:

5-puzzle solved

This was pretty obscure, to say the least. The first picture is Carolyn: Neil and Kelly//a disc, which we eventually figured out referred to the Rammstein album Mutter. The second is the cover for Terminator 2, which is abbreviated T2, which now may be redefined as track 2. And Track 2 on the Rammstein album is “Links, 2, 3, 4.” Then the last piece of the puzzle is a shift key with W1,W2 ^ W3. I don’t know how this was supposed to work, but Neil eventually figured it meant shift left 8.

He took that to the cipher we’d gotten with the key, and solved the puzzle, which, translated from the colloquial German said “a hot scream from the little man.” Given the earlier Rammstein reference, and that we’ve been on a Rammstein kick lately, and that Neil showed us the Lego version of Rammstein’s “Feuer Frei,” in which a Lego fig breathes fire, I looked in one of the Lego boxes.

There I found a present from Peter: a business card holder engraved with “Wer wagt, gewinnt.” I won’t translate this or explain its context, but I will say that work stress brings out the Teutonic maiden warrior within me. In fact, I have a running theory that my contract ran longer than it might have because everyone at the company was afraid to tell me it was over.

Inside the business card holder was a key to Peter’s office. So we all got dressed and drove downtown, where a Christmas service at the basilica was just getting out. In the office, on the ladder was posted a message in my favorite secret language for treasure hunts, Latin: “Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?” Who is the custodian of the custodians…I pondered, which could be “Who watches the watchmen?”

Peter had a Watchmen poster on his door, and Neil looked behind it to find the key for the office door. And there, inside the office, were our presents: a 1000-piece puzzle cube for Neil, a beautiful dress up treasure chest for Kelly, and an elegant wrist watch for me.

Once again, the fiends of GNOME have been thwarted!

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