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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Notre Dame chapter.

As I walked into the family room on Easter morning to watch mass on our T.V. screen, my eyes went to the corner of the room. For the past month the empty space nagged at me as my mom had moved her desk and computer from where it had been for ten years of my life into the basement so she had a place to teach her classes without interruption. This morning it wasn’t empty though—there was a small black table and two chairs.

“What’s happening over there?” I questioned. 

“It’s a puzzle table,” my mom responded.

Oh. After mass I lay on the couch in my usual Sunday morning stuper, feeling sad about the family we couldn’t see and the celebration we wouldn’t really be able to have. My mom sat down at the little black table.

“Want to come help me?” she asked.

“Honestly, I don’t need another reason to be frustrated right now,” I grumbled back at the thought of not being able to make those tiny squares of cardboard fit together.

As the day progressed, my mood lightened (I’m self-admittedly not a morning person) and at some point I decided to take my mom up on her offer. I was bored, I didn’t want to do homework and there seemed nothing better to do. We put pieces together on and off throughout the day. By the time dinner was done and the table cleaned, my mom and I sat back down at our little black table in the family room. While a Harry Potter Movie Marathon played on the T.V. to my left, I sat across from my mom putting together tiny pieces of a butterfly. I think my mom was taken aback when I looked up at her and said, “I’m not going to lie, I think this might be the happiest and most satisfied I’ve felt in about three and a half weeks.” I think I was a bit taken aback by my own admission too. And the more I thought about it, the more genuine it felt. 

This beautiful, 1000 piece puzzle of 100s of animals arranged in a rainbow gradient motivated and gratified me like nothing else in this quarantine time freeze. I’ve been struggling to feel a sense of purpose or the desire to get things done. It may seem silly, but this puzzle gave me back a small sense of control. The ability to do something, to see the progress you’re making and be rewarded with a finished product—this puzzle was a microcosmic gift of something I’ve been missing so much in my real life. 

Both my mom and I have been having some trouble falling asleep. While I lay in bed awake until 3 a.m., I can hear her get up and go downstairs to watch T.V. some nights. But the night of the puzzle we sat there together until 2 in the morning piecing things together (I could have gone all night until the picture was complete, but mom finally called it quits and I didn’t want to work on it on my own). Suddenly there was this place to put my listless energy. There was this tiny problem I could actually solve.

By noon the next day, the puzzle was done. 1000 pieces put together in less than 24 hours to make one beautiful picture. 

We ordered two more puzzles that should arrive by Saturday. I’m still so surprised at the power of this puzzle. I understand it, but I didn’t really see it coming. The funniest part was that I guess I’m not alone; the next day, the front page of our local newspaper read “Finding Piece.” The article inside talked about the comeback of jigsaw puzzles.

The world feels so full of problems we can’t solve. It’s overwhelming and I think that I’ve let feelings of helplessness put me in a place of complacency for too long. In a way, I feel like this puzzle just may have been the beginning of me picking up the pieces and pulling myself together. 

USPS Truck
Pope Moysuh

P.S. Just in case you may feel inclined to break out our own puzzle table, here are some links to explore: 

This is the puzzle that inspired it all!

This is one of the ones we ordered to do next!

Fun Fact: both these puzzles come from eeboo which is a women-owned toy boutique manufacturer that “specializes in useful, beautiful, and well-made educational games and gifts.” #supportwomen

Some other fun options!



Emma Koster

Notre Dame '22

Hi! My name is Emma and I'm a junior at the University of Notre Dame. I'm so excited to be studying psychology, journalism, and digital marketing here at ND! In my free time I love to read, eat yummy snacks, and hang out with friends.