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29 Dec 2016
the family puzzle |sophie-world.com

My sister Freda is a huge fan of The Onion, a satirical online news source.  Often she will share some of the funnier headlines - like this one on Christmas morning:

“Relatives Gather From Across the Country to Stare into Screens Together."  We all had a good chuckle about this as we looked up from our iPads, computers, and phones.


My family has come up with a tradition that attempts to confront this problem head on.  We call it PUZZLE TIME.

Each year my sister and I buy a puzzle with the undeclared rule that none of us can leave until the puzzle is done.  Freda and I have the most fun choosing the puzzles together.  We always try to find something with a lot of detail. We try to keep it within the 500 to 750 piece range.  300 pieces go too fast and 1000 pieces tests our time frame rule. it’s just not fair to leave our mother with an unfinished puzzle.   Typically, we start the day before Christmas.  My sister, my mom, and I sit and chat while Scott cooks, and my sister’s husband and Dad play video games.  By the time we have made a significant dent in the picture Scott will join us to help finish up with, as he calls it, the most important pieces.

We relish this unplugged time together.  It gives us a chance to catch up, laugh, and challenge our minds.  My Dad created a portable work space for us, so that we can work on the dining room table in between family meals.  He covered a large piece of gator board (a very sturdy cardboard) with painting canvas.  The canvas has enough texture that it grabs the puzzle pieces and keeps them in place, while still allowing for movement when necessary.

We always start with the outer edges.  Once we have the frame finished, we work our way in. My favorite part is when the overall picture starts to take shape, and you can fit larger elements into place.  The puzzle stays on the table unless meals are being served. Anyone can walk on by and place a piece or two if they like.  Often we’ll go out for a walk only to return to a completed corner. I can only guess that it was either the fairies, or my Dad.  

The sense of accomplishment we feel as we get closer and closer to the end is a great bonding experience.  And of course there are always the reflections on the year we bought a puzzle that had one piece missing, or the time we decided to try puzzling over the summer, only to drop the last piece through the slats on the deck.

Needless to say, it’s a wonderful family tradition that we gals look forward to.  And although the men might find it puzzling, we ladies find that it links us together and gives us that boost to face the New Year with a strong sense of connection.