I just finished booking a weekend family house in Lincoln City for Memorial Day weekend.
Last year was the first time that our family had decided to get together over this extended weekend and spend a little quality time together away from our busy jobs and never ending house and yard chores. It was my husband, our grown-up kids, our precious little “almost four” year old grandson, my parents and my sister and brother-in-law. We did the typical tourist activities like visit the aquarium and play in the sand…in fact it included lots and lots of playing in the sand which is a priority when you are “almost four”. But one thing I enjoyed most was our marathon puzzle building activity. For Christmas the previous year, I had received a 1000 piece puzzle. The picture was a Thomas Kincade painting of Gone With The Wind. In my professional and personal life, it seems I am always going, going, going, and the thought of just sitting with a good cup of coffee at the table looking out over the Siletz Bay and visiting with my family while putting together this puzzle represents to me the ultimate weekend relaxation. I remember growing up that we would sometimes do puzzles over Christmas vacation. My parents worked hard in their jobs as teachers, and looking back I think they may have felt the same way about having two weeks to do nothing more important than finishing a puzzle.
I enjoy the challenge of finding the puzzle pieces and seeing the picture grow and take shape with every new piece that is added. Everyone in my family has their own puzzle expertise and style. I prefer to work on the sky, while my Mom likes to work on the flowers…and my son is a masterful genius at filling in the holes with those super evasive shapes. Even the little guy stopped by a few times and spent a few minutes picking up pieces and trying to put them in. The next generation of puzzle master in the making.
But the other benefit of sitting together around a puzzle is the conversation. Stories are told and memories are made as the puzzle picture takes shape. My daughter and my mom and I had a wonderful “memory lane” conversation about the trip that we had taken a few years back to Europe…over four years ago actually… my how time flies. It had been a “legacy trip” to allow my mom the opportunity to share her love of European culture and memories from previous trips with her two granddaughters and me. We traveled through Germany, Austria and Luxembourg over the course of several weeks. It was purposely planned at a slow leisurely pace with lots of museums (of course), side-walk cafés and meandering drives through the countryside.
But on the day we went to Luxembourg it was pouring down rain. Buckets and buckets of rain! So much rain that we found a place to park the car by the center plaza and made a run for the only building we thought would be open – a church. Once inside, after our eyes adjusted to the dark, we found ourselves in a very unique architectural edifice. The stain glass windows were different than any we had seen previously and it had an odd little shrine museum filled with bones of the saints. But what stopped us in our tracks was a plaque by the front door talking about a bloody battle that had taken place on the plaza outside the church during WWII. The American soldiers and their British allies were trapped in this very church for hours as they took refuge against enemy troops. They held their ground and prevailed. The church provided them the safe haven they had needed to survive. But what had even more impact, was that my Mom remembered my Dad’s brother talking about this battle. He was there. In that little church off the plaza in this very town at this very place. I remember standing there in the still cold silence of the church and envisioning the sound of gun fire and the shouts of the soldiers as they battled on, not knowing the outcome of the day. I could almost feel the presence of my Uncle in that time and place so long ago. Stories of bravery. Stories of loss. Stories that are still being passed down to the next generation so they can make a connection to their past.. in that little church. A story that is now being told again around a puzzle and a great cup of coffee.
Yes, we did get the puzzle done, only to have to take it apart and put it back in the box as we packed up to leave on Monday. A waste of time some might say – but to me – a priceless and precious memory.
I would encourage you to take some time this year to truly make some memories of your own. Maybe that includes a puzzle, but whatever and wherever it is, I encourage you to share the important stories from your family’s past.
I wonder what puzzle I should bring for this year?
Adapted from The History Museum blog
Written by Connie Nice