Puzzle Time: Piecing Together Family Memories

By: Sandra L. Churchill

puzzle-pieceWith eagle-eye precision, our oldest daughter slips a turquoise blue piece into place, finishing a much-anticipated sky section of a vibrant Peanuts scene for her Charlie Brown fanatical mom.

We pushed closer to the scene before us, nearly elbowing each other into place as we jockeyed for position to complete our section of the puzzle. This was the first time in weeks we didn’t have a place to be, a rush-out-the-door commitment with extended family or friends, or a looming work deadline. Our eight-year-old scrambled to assemble the border pieces, a happy assignment given that the flat edges were easier to spot. Our college junior was content to boss the rest of us, assigning color sections to her dad and me, as well as her teenage sister. We were happy to oblige. This was teamwork!

Puzzles are a rare treat at our house, partly because we can’t afford the space to leave out complex projects for weeks on end and partly because life is sometimes too busy to tackle the latest 500-piece challenge. What we’ve discovered is 300-piece magic: the perfect size to promote a bit of challenge, but manageable enough to complete in an evening or two.

Over the years we’ve tackled Thomas Kinkade’s scenic wonders, angelic cherub scenes, undersea treasures, and a bevy of Peanuts snapshots that bring smiles from season to season. More engaging than movies or television, more team-oriented than reading, puzzles offer a cool combination of teamwork, short-term concentration, patience, and wonderful, close family time to sit and work on something with no real time-limit. Unlike hauling laundry down, loading dishes into the dishwasher, or tying up trash, this is a task that rewards with beauty – a finished picture that creates memories in the process. Once shellacked or Mod-Podged, it beams framed and dignified on the walls, reminding all of us that challenges can be tackled one piece at a time.

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