I made one last Christmas shopping trip last year on Dec. 23, even though I vow every year to be finished by Dec. 1. Maybe next year. I was browsing the board game aisle because that’s what 11-year-olds and college freshmen love. In fact, I’m pretty sure one of my children called it the “bored” game aisle.
I ran into one of my first great loves. I knew within the depths of my soul this would bring us hours of entertainment. We’d spend the holidays nestled by the fireplace. I had visions of us laughing, joking, drinking hot chocolate and inviting friends and neighbors over to join in the fun.
Kind of like a trailer for a Hallmark Christmas movie.
I quickly snatched the 500 piece puzzle and gently placed it in my buggy as if it were the last one. I knew there were 10 more just like it on the shelf, but I was ready to start making memories. When I got home I proudly showed the puzzle to my daughters. I was met with much less enthusiasm than I expected.
I’m sure they were just trying to compartmentalize the joy and excitement they were feeling. That’s okay. I was too. Overlooking their lack of enthusiasm I cleaned off the kitchen table. I’d already done the math. With three people and 500 pieces we should be done before the Christmas meal had to be served on the table. This should have been the case.
Jigsaw Puzzles 101 teaches you to build your edges first. Simple right? Well, should have been. This particular puzzle didn’t have all straight edges. It boasted several oddly shaped interlocking pieces that formed the edges. That’s okay. I just had to use the left part of my brain more than I anticipated during my vacation. Building the edges should not have crept past Christmas Day and Christmas dinner, but it did.
The next task consisted of sorting the rest of the pieces into colors or patterns. This should have been an easy task but this village featured lots of snow and a multi-hued winter sky pattern. It also had various people and pets in the picture.
At New Year’s Eve I barely had the edges and the first snowy bank completed. My children had long since moved on with their lives. I was enticing anyone who had a pulse to stop by for a snack, a glass of wine…..and, “oh would you like to help with my puzzle?” This puzzle predicament soon became the fodder of all my Snap Chat stories. I would sit at my table for hours on end staring, hoping and praying that something would make sense.
Maybe the next piece would be the catalyst that would make all of these other pieces fit. I was even contemplating using scissors to reshape some of the pieces. Yes, it was mid-January and I planned on cheating. I was trying to force pieces to fit where they clearly wouldn’t. If the sky piece matched the bricked cottage size-wise I forced it in. I was past caring. I even started an email to the puzzle company to let them know I had purchased a lemon puzzle and needed a replacement quickly.
Towards the beginning of February, my friends began avoiding my calls. When asked what I had planned after work or on weekends I just reminded them I was living in puzzle purgatory and please move on without me.
But, this was okay because I had an untapped market. A secret weapon. While sitting at my table one Saturday, my youngest walked through the kitchen with her friends. They were young, healthy, none of them wore glasses, and they were more than eager to help this desperate mother fulfill her mission in life.
This was the turning point in my puzzle predicament. The pieces began to fit. I was a matter of minutes away from the moment I’d been waiting for. It was Feb. 10 and the final destination was approaching.
Suddenly, without warning, my dreams were crushed. I was one piece short. The man hours logged for this project were astronomical and I wasn’t able to complete it! While I was ready to fire off email #2 to the puzzle maker utilizing my four letter vocabulary, I chose to reflect.
This breathtakingly beautiful “Twilight in the Village” scene had me on the verge of: friends questioning my sanity, cheating, offering kids money, and forcing pieces to fit.
All for what?
I sat there alone at my kitchen table running my hand over the puzzle, marveling at the workmanship and cleverness of puzzles. I couldn’t help but think what life is like when all of the pieces fit. When the pieces fit they interlock and become one large picture because that’s the way they were designed. It’s an overwhelming thought. When we try to force things that are ill-fitting, ill-timed and outside of God’s will for us we will always end up in despair and lacking peace.
We were all created with a void that only one thing satisfies. I kept the imperfect puzzle as a reminder.
“Seek ye first the Kingdom of God and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.” Mathew 6:33