Family Stories: National Puzzle Day 2023

National Puzzle Day… January 29, 2023

My mother in law, Cecelia, diligently working on a puzzle… sure wish I could see the photo on the box! I’m sure dinner was late on days she became absorbed… in loosing track of time!

My mother in law was always a puzzler… often having one set up in the back room… always nice to have an area where it can be left out. You’ll never finish if you have to keep putting it away. We recently bought a puzzle board with drawers on both ends, which is great in seperating pieces out of your way until needed… but there’s always one hiding in there that you’ve been looking for… and swearing it’s missing! Funny story on the purchase of this board bought through Amazon… as hubby pulled it out of the box, I was like… “this doesn’t look right, look one side is missing.” Sure enough, they left off one of the sides… so I called Amazon. They credited me and said either donate, dispose of, or keep it. Problem solved… I kept it, and told hubby to add a side using one of his yardsticks… they were the perfect size. I guess the guy on the assembly line went home early that day… wonder how many left the factory like mine… in missing one side of the puzzle board? We’re loving our “free” puzzle board!

So when did puzzles first come into existence… and after a little research I learned!

  • 1767: Mapmaker John Spilsbury created the first jigsaw puzzle… it’s said, he used a saw in cutting out a map; it was mounted on a hardwood sheet… hence the name jigsaw.
  • 1908: Puzzles became a full-blown craze in the United States.
  • 1913: The first crossword puzzle was published in 1913 on the 21st of December in the New York World Newspaper… a Sunday Newspaper. The creator of this first published puzzle was Arthur Wayne, a journalist.
  • 1933: During the Great Depression, puzzles sales soared at 10 million per week… and I find that so hard to believe, as I would think they wouldn’t spend money on unnecessary items.. such as puzzles!
  • The study of puzzles is known as enigmatology… I don’t know about you, but I am tongue-tied in even trying to pronounce it!
  • Lewis Carroll, the author of the famous Alice in Wonderland, is the inventor of word ladder puzzles… well this puzzles me, as I’m not sure what a word ladder puzzle is… hey Google!
  • New to me… National Puzzle Day was established by Jodi Jill in the year 2002 in sharing her love of puzzles with everyone. Jodi is a professional quiz maker and a syndicated maker of puzzles. I will be googling her puzzles!

Regular jigsaw puzzles are quite popular among all ages… as I’ve seen on a couple of Facebook puzzle groups. I’m amazed when they show a 1000 piece puzzle and say it only took them a couple of days… all I can say is… did they come up for air? I can’t be glued to a puzzle, as I have too many irons in the fire… as mama liked to tell me. I just began a new knitting project, even though I have a few knitting projects also on needles. I’m also working on an April A to Z Blog Challenge, and I have a dining room table that needs cleaning off so I can finish a few sewing projects. Maybe I need to give up sleeping!

At a recent estate sale… there must have been over a hundred puzzles for sale… someone had been very busy. But the oddest thing I’ve ever seen was at a tag sale last summer… with almost just as many for sale… but the puzzler had written on the back of them… writing exactly where the puzzle went! I wished later that I had bought just one of them… even his writing was perfectly sized for the puzzle piece. (I did have hubby hold up one of the puzzle backs for me)

In thinking about the many types of puzzles besides the jigsaw… think about newspaper crosswords, sudoku, word search, 3-D puzzles, Rubik’s Cube, puzzle brain teasers where you have to unlock something, or release the rings through the square; hubby has a box of those type puzzles we’ve acquired through the years. And who hasn’t jumped on the craze of Wordle… I jumped on last year a couple months after it began, although my first thoughts were… I just don’t understand it. Every morning hubby and I work to solve, while muttering outloud, “Oh I have nothing and I’m on line 3.” As of late, I think they are becoming a wee bit tricky… as I often have to make sure my Nancy Drew cloche hat is snugged on tight! As to those New York Times puzzles… I’m lucky to figure out a few and envious of those who solve the entire thing. I’m told though, that the more you work them, you learn the ins and outs of what the answers will be… but I think I’ll pass. I do keep a couple word puzzles and word search for our afternoon beach sitting… in trying to keep me off my phone and scrolling through Facebook. While I know its still a chilly January… my mind is only thinking of my soon-to-be beach days… it’s all downhill now waiting for summer!

Hubby putting together the globe… he didn’t think it would go together, but needed the help of a tool in securing the very top pieces.

My husband, for as many years as I can think back to… always did the TV Guide puzzle… I remember having to buy it weekly as soon as it hit the stands on Monday mornings. It was just one of those things, that you had to have on that very day… and if for some reason, it didn’t come into the stores… you were devastated, in not having next weeks guide. Once they changed the format though… well, it’s never been the same… and we stopped buying. My husband was a collector of old TV Guides… and in all of them that were ours… his DNA is on the puzzle page… and he never left a square empty!

One of hubby’s TV Guide puzzles… he faithfully completed weekly!

So what do puzzles do for you, other than maybe creating a pretty picture to frame! They are great for stimulating your brain cells, regardless of your age… and it’s an activity where all ages can join in and work together. We have a 2000 piece Coca Cola puzzle with all the family’s DNA on those pieces! I was a very bad girl when putting that one together though… as I hid one piece… to ensure I put the last piece in! Very tricky of me… glad I didn’t lose it! The few puzzles we’ve done in the past, we framed… as I’ve never been one for taking them apart… as I loved the images and couldn’t bear to take them apart. Yes, they’re up in the attic… along with my Christmas puzzle I hang yearly. The one puzzle we still have hanging is that 2000 Coca Cola puzzle… it brings back so many memories of all the family who sat around the table. When we cleaned out hubby’s moms house, I found several laying on the attic floor… lots of hours went into those!

The well-remembered 2000 piece Coca Cola puzzle!

I never saw anyone make puzzles in growing up… so my first experience with them was seeing his mother sit in front of a puzzle. The only time I heard my mother mention puzzles was in telling me that they had them at the senior center… where she went daily. In asking her if she worked on any… “that’s not for me, I’d throw them in the trash and walk on.” She was absolutely not interested in making a puzzle… and even when I tried telling her how it’s good for her brain… I received the look of “find another topic!”

Our “free” puzzle board… and hubby is already saying he thinks there are 3 pieces missing! (Note… the ruler side we added.)

Hubby put this together… as his aunt gave up. It was quite hard… and as usual he said… there are pieces missing. He first thought it was an outside piece, but I later found that one in the box, but there was one missing piece in the end; I made one from the box cover… getting too much practice in that lately!

Hubby, aka… “Pop” with granddaughter Ana working another chicken puzzle! Pop wearing his famous welding hat!

Daughter in law, Rose, with daughter Nina, and mom, Anna… all putting in the last piece of Rose’s chicken puzzle. While it didn’t look hard… it was… as those darn chickens shared too many colors, but Rose worked diligently to assemble!

So put down those I-Pads, Cell Phones, shut the television… and work a puzzle with family… make memories!

To read more family stories, click HERE.

© 2023, copyright Jeanne Bryan Insalaco; all rights reserved


About Jeanne Bryan Insalaco

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4 Responses to Family Stories: National Puzzle Day 2023

  1. I am a puzzler. I won’t allow people to buy them for me either. I am a snob about which puzzles I’ll do. Just finished one yesterday in two hours but only 500 pieces. I wondered why 1000 pieces doesn’t take four hours. Usually it is several days and whole weekends. I hate the puzzles which have a zillion shapes. I also don’t like too much sky or lake or tree. And, most of all, I am always thinking I must have lost a piece when something isn’t going in a spot. Good reason for this, it has happened before. One other odd thing, one time, the Christmas girls stocking was a boys stalking. Called the manufacturer and they sent the girls. So, I ended up doing two stalkings I hadn’t planned on. For the boys, I had to look up the photo online and print it out. It is very soothing and a great way to get through winter. And, no, sometimes I don’t come up for air. You can ask my back!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you reading. When I heard today it was national puzzle day… I knew I had to write a post! Those stockings sound awesome. I’m looking for older Xmas tree shape puzzle like my aunt has. She had it hanging at Xmas and it looked so pretty as just a shape. Her husband had mounted it on heavy cardboard. It’s hard enough to frame regular puzzles but unless you had a shaped frame, the puzzle wouldn’t look right. They are a great winter project for sure but my writings keep me pretty busy and my many crafts and knitting. I often sneak in a few pieces when he heads to the basement. Enjoy your puzzles!!!


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