11:25:00 AM

I am not a puzzle-framin' person.  Don't get me wrong, I like puzzles, I like them a lot, they are fun and relaxing, and when you are done with them you can put them back in the box to do another day....and even if you've done them before, the second time they are just as challenging. It's great, cheap, non-electronic, family entertainment.

Our whole family likes puzzles.

Whenever we go visit my husband's parents for a day, the kids immediately go to the puzzle closet.  They have their favorites that they do with grandpa, and their favorites that they build on their own.  The sense of pride and accomplishment that these kids feel when they move up the puzzle chain and on to harder, more difficult puzzles - and complete them - is fun to watch.

Two years ago, my parents came and visited us for Christmas.  We must have done six puzzles during that visit. Yes, I said six.  And they weren't the small, easy kind either.  We like complicated puzzles.  The kind with lots of green or blue or small flowers. We like the ones that take hours and hours, prime time for talking and enjoying each other's company. Ask my kids what they remember most about that visit with Grandma and Grandpa, they'll tell you.  Puzzles.

I think puzzling might be an inherited trait.

I'm pretty sure it is.

Puzzling has been passed from generation to generation.  Great grandparents to grandparents to parents to kids.  Maybe it has to do with the fact that we actually enjoy being together as a family. Maybe it's because a puzzle challenges your mind.  Maybe it's because puzzles can be both quiet and rowdy - depending on the crowd. Maybe it's because we are nerds. I don't know.

This weekend we were cleaning out our garage.  Another puzzle if you think about it- stacking and putting things away in a proper order.  Anyway, while going through many multiples of boxes and Rubbermaid tote bins, we came across an old puzzle.  Instantly my husband and I remembered it, and I went to dig through old photos just to be sure. This particular puzzle is one that he, his grandpa, and two of our daughters put together while visiting his grandparent's cabin...seven years ago.  We were there for three days, and it took all three days to complete.  It was one of those 1000 piece puzzles where 800 of them were green, leafy trees and flowers. Over those three days they talked about school (my husband was getting his Masters degree), family history, Grandpa told stories about Daddy as a little boy (and about daddy's dad...), we learned about the history of the cabin itself - how Grandpa and his siblings and Great Grandpa built it with their own hands, and we played outside and watched the various wildlife that came and roamed freely around the cabin.  All in all, it was a great trip.

Anyway, once the puzzle was complete, they were so proud of it, they made me take this picture:

As we were getting ready to leave, Grandpa carefully folded the puzzle and put it into the box.  He then handed it to our oldest daughter and told her to go home and re-do it - see if she could beat the three days it took the five us us together to complete it. We took the box and put it in with our things, and headed for home.

The puzzle must have ended up in the Rubbermaid bin shortly there after.  I'm not sure how it got there, or when we put it there, but we never did unfold the puzzle, or re-do it.

And the Rubbermaid bin is where we found it this weekend while cleaning the garage.

Still put together by Grandpa's hands.

We gingerly removed the puzzle from the box and laid it flat on our table, as if we were unrolling an original copy of the Declaration of Independence.  I've started the process of gluing the pieces together, and as it cures, sending this photo to be printed.  The puzzle and the photo will be framed together and hung in a place of honor in our home.

Like I said, I'm not a puzzle-framin' person.  But this puzzle, this one is special. 

Grandpa passed away last November from an accidental fall that nobody was expecting, and nobody was ready for.  We went to Utah for the funeral, spent time with family and loved ones, and reminisced about cherished memories of this great man.  Everyone talked about the cabin - one of his favorite places - and immediately my girls remembered their time there seven years ago.

I love puzzles and I love family.  Both are similar in a lot of ways.  Every person is unique and fits perfectly in their place.  If just one person is missing, a hole is left behind.  Each person interlocks with one another to form a tightly woven landscape, but yet must be treated gingerly and with love to keep it all together.  If one person is lost, you don't give up the search until you find them - because the picture isn't complete until you do.  Most importantly, puzzles, like families, can be sealed together, forever.

Puzzles are a lot like families, and I am eternally grateful for that truth.

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