Christmas is rapidly sneaking up on me and as it does, I get a growing urge to crack open a box, spread it's contents on a table and start picking it over and putting things together. When I was younger, (so much younger) every Christmas seemed to bring a puzzle. I don't quite remember if these were gifts or if my parents bought a new one for every year. Regardless, in the days after Christmas, a table would be set up in the living room, a puzzle dumped out and for hours at a time, the family would sit by the window watching winter go by, slowly putting pretty pictures together, piece by piece.
Hour after hour I spent at a table with my Dad, Mom, brother or some combination of, picking over pieces, watching as others picked up pieces, wondering if that might be the one that fit what I was looking for. I don't remember the conversations we had. I don't even remember if we did talk all that much. I just remember that time we spent together and it makes me feel all warm and fuzzy.
A few years ago, I broke out a puzzle, trying to recreate my memories. While I still loved putting the puzzle together, there was just something different about doing it alone. No one handing me that piece I'd been looking for for hours. No one to chat with about random things we'd both forget about in days, if not hours. But it felt lonely putting together a puzzle alone.
My cats tried to help. Or I assume that's what they thought it was. They'd jump up on the table, sometimes at a run, sliding into the puzzle, knocking pieces everywhere. Then they'd stop, sit for a moment, then begin to bat at one piece or another, chasing it as if it were a tiny cardboard mouse. Sometimes in the morning, I'd wake up to find a pile of pieces littered on the ground around the table.
So I gave up on the puzzles, but I still miss that time with my family in the days after Christmas.