Working on puzzles isn't something I do often, and really wasn't while I was growing up either. My mom would occasionally work on one, and I'd help for a while, but usually wouldn't see it through to the finish.
Last New Year's Eve I started a new tradition for myself. I had changed my plans for the evening mid-week and knew I would be home alone on NYE. From junior high up until a few years ago I spent NYE with friends from high school. It was always a great night, and one we looked forward to spending together. We've gone our own ways now and NYE has sort of caught me off guard in recent years. It's the end of "my sometimes lonely time" of year, so last year I decided to do something new to me. . . eating appetizers and putting together a puzzle. I thought I'd give it a whirl last year, and if I felt too bored or alone, I'd be more planful for NYE in 2009. To my surprise, it was a good night last year. I put together a pretty small puzzle - of a parrot of all things - ate some good food and stayed up until midnight. Warm and cozy in my home. I was reminded of the puzzle when Jodi and I were on a beach in Cozumel a few months later. There were two parrots - just like the those on the puzzle - on a stand at the beach entrance.
This year I decided I'd plan the same evening for myself. I had things pretty well set to go early on in the week. I worked on NYE, and was so excited to come home and start my night. I dished up black-eyed pea (for good luck in the new year) salad and opened a beer while I heated up some cheese fondue and bread, and sauted a few shrimp. I chatted briefly with Tammy and my mom on the phone, then set out to completely enjoy my evening. I dumped the puzzle out on my dining room table and worked on it while watching a movie on my laptop. Just before midnight I posted my last blog for 2009 and rang in 2010 eating ice cream with homemade butterscotch sauce. It was a fantastic New Year's Eve.
I finished the puzzle the next morning. And again, it was a meant-for-me choice - a picture of Italy - since I plan to go there this year. I wanted a slightly bigger puzzle than last year's and this one was the only choice between 100 and 500 pieces at Target. Just meant to be.
Completing a puzzle on NYE has become a meditative and symbolic activity for me, and a new tradition. Looking at all the pieces, scattered on the table, is like looking at the new year. New ideas, new experiences, new feelings, new people, new challenges, new joys. . . all before me. I'm not quite sure how they all with fit together at first glance, but I know with patience, perseverance, hope, prayer, courage and love, that they will fit, piece by piece. I found myself saying "thank you" each time I found a piece that fit in its place. I had put all the pieces together. The picture was complete.
This night has changed so much for me in 34 years. Not in good nor bad ways. Just in new ways. Welcome 2010.