Sitting around a table intently searching for outside pieces, for the cursive O that will complete the cafe’s sign, for the bear’s nose, for the Matterhorn’s tip. Laughing, drinking hot chocolate, cataloging our memories from the year. Every Christmas, Neal and I scour the internet to find a puzzle that perfectly reflects the traveling we did throughout the year. It’s become our way of closing out the year and cementing our memories.
When I was a kid, my family always did puzzles at Christmas time. It was the same sort of joy – talking for hours as we complete the entire sky or finally finish the lake. We experimented with new types of puzzles, including glow-in-the-dark and 3D. It was always a new challenge for us to figure out together.
As my siblings and I got older, as my parents divorced, we came together less and less. We all moved away and we all know how difficult it is to make time for each other. Neal and I started bringing a puzzle to my mom’s house for Christmas (or Thanksgiving if we knew we wouldn’t be home for Xmas), to try to keep the tradition alive. It worked, and my mom, sister and I did a lot of puzzles over the years.
Some years ago, Neal and I decided to make it our own tradition. One year, we found this beautiful puzzle of Jasper National Park. We had just been to Jasper earlier that year! It was so much fun putting the pieces together and reminiscing about our time there. This sparked our idea of doing puzzles related to our travel from then on. No random puzzles of the moon or Santa or a random fall scene for us! Now, every time we’re on vacation we say things like, “oh! I hope there’s a puzzle with this scene!” It’s so fun and such great family time to reflect on our travel.
This year, we’re doing a winter scene of the Matterhorn in honor of our trip this past summer to Switzerland. I can’t wait to talk all about going to the top of Mt. Pilatus, eating cheese and chocolate, losing my camera, walking through flower fields, visiting the oldest town in Switzerland, biking around Bodensee (and almost dying), and every other amazing memory we made in Switzerland.
I hope everyone has a great holiday, however you spend it!
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