Picture Puzzles

Photo by DailyCraft, Flickr Creative Commons

I made one of my favorite gifts ever this holiday.

I wanted to share it with you all December, but I was afraid I’d ruin the surprise. (Some of the recipients kindly read this blog. You know family; they’re supportive like that.)

Even though the holidays have come and gone, I thought some of you might still like to file it  away for future Mother’s Days, birthdays, holidays, etc. I’ve posted it here on Pinterest, too.

As many of you know, a pivotal point for our family in 2012 was the loss of Grandma Shirley. Her absence was all the more piercing at the holidays, when we were so used to seeing her buzzing around the kitchen—even at the ripe old age of 90.

So this year, I wanted to give something positive to members of the family in memory of this incredible woman we all adored.

Shirley and Szaba in holiday red

I wanted to honor the things about her that made us smile (not grieve), three of which were:

  • Her beauty (inside and out),
  • Her cooking, and
  • Her love of puzzles.

So I made a gift that combined all three.

First, I found a site that makes photos into custom picture puzzles. I used VivoPrint.com, but there are lots of them out there. Just search for “custom puzzle.”

Then I picked a size and marked off those dimensions on my kitchen table. Using a variety of her pictures throughout the years and a stack of her handwritten, kitchen-smudged recipe cards, I assembled a collage within those dimensions.

Shirley Picture Puzzles

All I had to do then was take a picture, upload it to the site, and place my order.

Each puzzle arrived in a lovely tin with my picture printed on the top. The family members reveled in the memories it sparked and were wonderfully surprised. It also gave us permission to talk about her without the discomfort of merely focusing on her absence.

Of course, I had to get a puzzle for myself, too. It’s lovingly tucked away in my Shirley box, just like the box I made for Sue. Someday I’ll give both of these boxes (including the puzzle) to Szaba, to help her get to know these two amazing women that are still so very much a part of her and her story.

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