The other day I read that the amount of time families spend together has dropped to an all time low. I guess that’s not really a big surprise considering all the things there are to do these days. I was reminded of something we would all do as a family during the good old days and that was building jigsaw puzzles. It was always fun and I wonder if any families still do this ? 

Typically the puzzle was of the 1000 to 2000 piece variety and we would spread it out on the dining room table which was rarely used except for birthdays and special occasions giving us plenty of time for completion. Initially when the box was opened alot of us would start out working on it with someone, usually our sister setting up the border – the easiest part.

The rest of us would spend our time sorting the pieces by color and working on a specific section of the puzzle. The sky was almost always left until the end because this required looking for a specific shaped puzzle piece and the time frame for finding two pieces that fit together was less than desireable.

Even our dad who worked alot would come home at night, pour himself a drink or two and relax working on the puzzle with us. I can even remember our grandmother lending us a hand when she came to stay. We had a variety of puzzles with various landscapes, buildings or repetitive designs and some novelty puzzles like a pizza pie, cigarette butts and chocolates to name a few.

Of course, as the puzzle neared completion puzzle pieces would mysteriously disappear with regularity which was no surprise because the biggest reward of doing the puzzle was being the one who got to put in the last piece !

Hey, How Was That Vacation?

You are an American who gets two weeks of vacation a year.  You decide, after some consideration, to take a cruise for part of that vacation time.  You’ve seen the commercials that feature attractive, fun-loving singles dancing, drinking, and gambling on a luxury liner that steams serenely through warm, bright blue waters.  That looks pretty good!  Maybe you’ll get a chance to relax, to meet someone and enjoy some high times off the Mexican coast.  A cruise would be a fine way to spend those few, hard-earned vacation days!

The big day comes.  You board the ship, filled with anticipation.  You are ready to cruise, baby!  At first you enjoy the Lido deck, the endless buffets and late-night sundae bar, some gambling, and the drinking games by the pool.

But then, a fire breaks out.  The ship is left powerless and without communication, drifting off the coast of Mexico and rolling sickeningly in the ocean’s swell.  There is no hot food.  Instead of the endless buffet, you are eating Spam and Pop Tarts.  Your cabin is dark and stifling, because the air conditioning isn’t working.  Your toilet, and every other toilet on the ship, is filled, reeking, and inoperable.  You are sweaty and smelly, so foul that you disgust yourself, and your fellow passengers are no different.  The happy-go-lucky, ready-to-party cruisegoers who bounded aboard the ship only days ago are nowhere to be found, and even the brightest cruisewear can’t hide the sullen expressions of the lost souls who aimlessly roam the decks.  The hallways of the ship are filled with barf bags and the decks are redolent of the ripe odor of vomit.  The ship that seemed so bright and big now feels grim and horribly confining.

Finally, though, your ship is rescued and towed to San Diego.  You get off the ship, vowing never to take another cruise.  And then you go back to work, and one of your office friends asks:  “Hey, how was that vacation?”