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Celebrating Puzzles!

In 1995, game companies in the United States initiated International Puzzle Day, January 29, to celebrate crossword and other puzzles of all sizes, shapes and forms. In 2002, National Puzzle Day was created by Jodi Jill, a syndicated newspaper columnist and now January is Puzzle Month.

There is also a Jigsaw National Puzzle Day, November 3, but that date seemed a bit too long to wait. Why? The Sisters completed a 5,000-piece jigsaw puzzle in Providence Hall! The puzzle, donated by Sherry (Dailey) Morgan, Sister Suzanne Dailey’s sister, took two months to complete. It was a challenge some of us just could not resist, however daunting it was somedays.

(From left) Sister Lawrence Ann Liston, Sister Suzanne Dailey, Sister Mary Ann Phelan, Sister Donna Butler and Sister Editha Ben display a 5,000-piece puzzle in Providence Hall.

John Spilsbury created the first jigsaw puzzle, a wooden map to teach geography skills and it was the primary use of jigsaw puzzles until about 1920. The national jigsaw puzzle website informs us that labyrinth drawing puzzles were popular in Ancient Egypt. In the United States, puzzles became a full-blown craze in 1908 and during the Great Depression, puzzles soared at 10 million per week! And guess what? During the COVID-19 pandemic, they became so popular that there was a global shortage.

Jigsaw puzzles come in varied styles: Three-dimensional, double-sided, some even with the same picture on both sides. Doing jigsaw puzzles is an excellent brain activity, requiring the use of both sides of the brain, improving memory, logic and problem-solving skills.

In doing some research, I learned that one large puzzle contains 13,000 pieces! Another has 27 separate puzzles that when interlocked together, form one continuous puzzle that measure more than 6-feet high and 28-feet long, with a total of 50,000 pieces! Wow! Is anybody game for that challenge?

International championships take place in Spain and this year for the first time in Las Vegas.

Doing jigsaw puzzles is a very popular activity here at the Woods. Some sisters have a real facility for this activity: Marge Funke, Lawrence Ann Liston, Editha Ben and postulant Leslie Dao, to mention a few. Sister Marilyn Trobaugh has loved puzzles for a long time and especially enjoys them now that she has more time on her hands. A number of sisters in health care find puzzles to be relaxing.

Providence Associate Alice Shelton found that doing a puzzle for five to 10 minutes during an office break created a shift in her brain that helped her solve a complex accounting issue. Other staff members joined in, then donated some new puzzles and thus began a puzzle practice in the office.

Providence Associate Lorrie Scheidler loves jigsaw puzzles because it’s building a picture that involves strategy, patience, and perspective. Like many of us, she finds it a peaceful activity and having another person help makes it more fun.

Sister Suzanne Dailey noted that having frequently lived alone plus her family’s interest in puzzles makes her turn to them for entertainment, distraction and as a way to calm down and reduce stress.

“I find when I am working on a puzzle that I am thinking, often about everyday situations, even problems; but I am not worrying or distracted. Another part of my brain is fully focused on the puzzle and that seems to calm me down,” Suzanne said.

Like many others, Suzanne enjoys the finished product, especially if it is a beautiful picture, and leaves it in place for a few days just to continue admiring it.

Want to have some fun? There are a number of online jigsaw puzzle websites and this one allows you to create an online puzzle from an uploaded photo of your choice.

What activities help you to calm yourself during this pandemic? What kind of puzzles do you enjoy?

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Sister Donna Butler

Sister Donna Butler has been a Sister of Providence of Saint Mary-of-the-Woods for more than 60 years. Sister Donna has served in elementary education, parish ministry, diocesan social justice, as well as the Congregation’s liturgy office, archives department and social justice outreach. She also administered as the director of the Providence Volunteer Ministry. Sister Donna currently volunteers in outreach with Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College students.

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  1. Lorrie Heber on February 3, 2022 at 8:00 am

    I love puzzling and I especially love Colin Thompson’s puzzles too! There is a story in every piece! I’ve not tackled a 5,000 piece one before and I’m not sure I have the space to do it. You have my puzzle respect for completing this one!

  2. Jeanie Reime Heller on February 3, 2022 at 1:20 pm

    Congrats to everyone who completed the 5000 piece puzzle! What an achievement!

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