Mom would open up a new puzzle and spread the pieces out on the dining room table. It was an ideal place for a puzzle as the puzzle only took up a small space (our dining room table could easily have been considered for The Last Supper) on a table we only occasionally used (we had both a kitchen and dining room table) so we didn’t have to move it at the end of the day. The dining room table was always in the center of the house, a passing point for wherever I was going or wherever I’d been (and I have never been able to pass by a puzzle without trying to put in at least one piece).
The puzzle just sat, inviting each of us to join in. Friends would come over and pitch in. It was a meeting point that allowed us to chat with Mom without feeling the pressure of a formal conversation. Talk was easy, the puzzle was challenging. It’s not easy being a teen. Somehow the symbolism of the puzzle made life seem less confusing. As if all the things I was working out in my head just needed to be twisted and turned until it all fit just right. Having a place to sit and chat made life feel less stressful. Sometimes just being present with one another, even if in silence, made the world seem just right…even if only for a moment.
I remember one Christmas Mom and Dad rented a cabin in Burnet for us all to meet at. Bet you can’t guess what was set up in the middle of the room? A puzzle, of course. And we all sat around it, jostling pieces from side to side, chatting, laughing, sometimes just enjoying the silence of the company around us. It’s not the cabin I remember. Or the delicious food served. Or even the presents waiting under the tree that I remember. It’s that puzzle. And the time we all spent in front of it.
I want to breed that some atmosphere in my house, so the dining room table is now home to a puzzle. Let’s hope the boys get sucked in just as I did.