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PuzzlesThere are jigsaw puzzles for every age.  There are big plastic ones for babies and thick board puzzles for toddlers.  There are 24-piece puzzles to 1000-piece puzzles to 3D puzzles.  There are puzzles with the latest movie theme to landscapes to animals to architecture.  Any photograph can become a puzzle.  And thousands of them have.

What is the fascination of putting a puzzle together? Maybe it is the sense of accomplishment when the puzzle is done.  Maybe it is watching a picture come together in front of you.  Maybe it is the thrill of the chase – finding the right place where a piece belongs.  Maybe it is the time spent with family gathered around the table.  Or maybe it is the peace and quiet, the solitude, a chance to escape for a moment.

My grandpa used to put puzzles together all the time.  Especially in the winter when he couldn’t go outside so much. I don’t really remember actually seeing my grandpa working on a puzzle.  He was probably one of those that worked on puzzles for the solitude, the peace and quiet.  What I do remember, however, is that anytime my parents went anywhere, we always bought a puzzle for grandpa as a souvenir.  My grandma got salt & pepper shakers and grandpa got a puzzle.  My mom would usually pick out the salt & pepper shakers and I would pick out a puzzle. 

I do remember putting puzzles together with my mom when I was younger.  We would take over the kitchen table for a few days.  Mom had her strategy of how to put a puzzle together.  We dumped the whole thing in the middle of the table and put the empty box on the other side of the table for reference.  We then went through every piece separating the edge pieces from the others and turning them all right side up in the process.  After all the edge pieces were put together, we then attacked the inside. 

When my kids were very young, I bought a lot of puzzle for us to put together.  They seemed to enjoy it then.  Not so much anymore.  The last couple of times we put a puzzle together, I actually did most of the work while they were off doing something else.  Consequently, I had not put a puzzle together for quite some time.

I then discovered a puzzle app on the internet.  You pick a puzzle to put together and it throws the pieces in a pile in the middle of your computer screen.  I have found myself still using my mom’s strategy of putting a puzzle together.  The only difference is that I don’t have to turn any pieces over and I don’t have to figure out which way the piece goes.  At the end of the day, I will get on the computer and put a puzzle together.  My youngest will come to help me with it once in awhile for maybe 10 minutes.  I wonder what grandpa would think of putting puzzles together on a computer.  I wonder what grandpa would think of computers in general, for that matter.

Putting a puzzle can mean different things to different people.   I loved sitting at the kitchen table working on a puzzle with my mom.  For me it is a way to relax and the sense of an accomplishment when the puzzle is done.  Especially if it is a particularly hard puzzle.

Puzzles can still be found in department stores and most book stores.  It is a great way to spend time with family and friends or just relax at the end of the day.