I gave Princess Two a puzzle for Christmas, hoping it was something we could do together during break. My mom used to get one for us every holiday and putting it together was always fun, even though we almost never finished before it was time to return to school.
To my delight, the entire family participated in putting this one together. The puzzle was 1000 pieces, so not easy. In truth, I did the edges before getting really sick, so Best Husband Ever, Bonus Son One and Princess Two did most of it throughout the course of a few days. They finished one morning while I was asleep - still trying to get rid of this nasty cold.
They finished. All but one piece. A missing piece. We looked everywhere for it: under couches, blankets, the cats' bowl. Couldn't find it anywhere. I blamed the cats. BS1 thought it was a conspiracy from the puzzle maker. BHE and P2 had no ideas.
Last night, as I was getting ready for bed, I glanced down and saw something on the carpet near my dresser. My eyes aren't good in the dim light, so I leaned closer to inspect, thinking it was probably a deposit from one end of a cat or the other.
It was the puzzle piece! I'd walked the same path many times since the puzzle piece went missing. In fact, the spot is near where I keep my slippers, so the odds of me seeing it, even sick, were good.
I want to know how it ended up there. Had it been there all along and I hadn't seen it? Had one of the cats decided it was a fun toy to bat around and somehow transferred it from the living room all the way to the master bedroom? Was it stuck to the bottom of my slipper?
Being me, I'm compelled to connect this story to a wider metaphor. Like, what's the missing piece in your life that's right under your nose, albeit possibly thwarted by a naughty cat? Is that missing piece what you need to complete the puzzle of your life? Or, is the search for that small, missing piece just part of a greater journey? Can you still feel joyful even if not every single piece of your puzzle is in place? It is searching and growing, with those you love by your side, actually the only piece that really matters?
All I know is that last night, around 10:30, when I found the missing piece, I shouted so loudly I scared Princess Two. The girls came running from their rooms to see what all the fuss was about. I had to reenact how I spotted it and we all exclaimed and marveled and conjectured how it had come to be there and when. Then, BHE gave the piece to P2 to complete the final piece of the puzzle. Satisfied, we all went to bed.
Upon reflection, after both BS1 and P2 suggested we do puzzles more often, I was pleased with my experiment. Blending this family has been hard. It's still hard. But seeing all of them working together on that puzzle gave me hope.
Anyway, all of this to say - whatever missing pieces you're looking for this year, I wish you joy along the journey.