Have you seen Nat the Fat Rats post on paint by numbers? I read that post and instantly my heart flipped a little and told me–ya. . . I could become obsessed with those. I don’t know, she just made them seem so appealing– “Like a jigsaw puzzle, but with paint.”
My family always got a huge jigsaw puzzle for Christmas (does the name Charles Wysocki mean anything to anybody?) and we (mostly my sister and I) would spend a good chunk of Christmas Day and the rest of the break working on it. It was awesome. Puzzles are awesome. And then one day Alison had an epiphany of sorts and realized that puzzles are a complete and absolute waste of time. You dump out all of the pieces,spend hours upon hours assembling them, to what end? So that you can take them apart and put them back in the box. And let’s not even talk about the ridiculousness that is framing puzzles. Please. So, of course she was right, jigsaw puzzles are a complete waste of time, but that’s kind of the point, isn’t it? I look at those paint by numbers and one side of my brain says: pointless. Those things are hideous, “kitschy as bunk” as Natalie puts it. Some law of the universe must say that if you are the kind of person doing paint by numbers, you are 80, lonely, and love nothing more than to create tacky works of art to display in your tacky home. But the other side of my brain says: that sounds fun. A mindless, relaxing, reaching-zen-status activity that requires little from me, but still somehow feels like I’m doing something more productive than t.v. watching or something, and feels as though I’m creating even though I’m pretty much not really, and there is nothing to be done with such an ugly creation except to throw it in the trash, or else the back of some closet somewhere where it will become one of those purge-time guilt-inducing items that is stupid to keep but you just can’t bring yourself to throw it away or figure out what the heck else to do with it. There’s just something about the process, though. I feel the same way about knitting and cross-stitching. I have little to no use for anything knitted or cross-stitched and 90% of the time I embark on such a project, I don’t actually want or need the finished product. All I really want is to spend hours upon meaningless hours pulling needles this way and that, feeling that repetitive motion, to just sit, yet feel I’m doing more than just sitting, to have something to occupy my hands while I talk to someone, listen to music, or supervise bathtime.
When my grandma died a few years ago and my mom and aunt we’re going through all of her things, I somehow inherited this puzzle (insert witty comment about the title of the puzzle:fruit) I did it once and I’m pretty sure it miraculously wasn’t missing a single piece despite having been purchased approximately 50 years ago. I also discovered this gem in the box–a brochure on how to throw your very own puzzle party.
And I laughed because it was hilarious and ridiculous, but also geeked out just a little bit because. . . a puzzle party. Doesn’t that sound lovely?? Has anyone actually been to a puzzle party? What should the format be? Several puzzles going at once in competition? Switching from puzzle to puzzle to keep things interesting?
Someday I’m legit going to throw one. I’m thinking during the dead of winter, dress code: comfy sweaters and sweat pants. Hot chocolate and finger snack foods abounding, fireplace mandatory, we’ll start off the night blaring Frank Sinatra (it just feels right) and as we settle into a lazy rhythm of jigsaw bliss, transition to Norah Jones on repeat. And if it just so happens to rain or snow during all of this, then I can just die and go to heaven. Please tell me you would come. And if it’s a success maybe a paint-by-numbers party could happen someday too.