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Family’s puzzling tradition brings out true meaning of Christmas

In all, they’ve put together more than 100,000 pieces and incredibly, only lost one.

The true meaning of Christmas can be found in a Mansfield dental office.

Patients at iKids Pediatric Dentistry always leave with a smile. Partly because the quality of work, but mostly for what’s hanging all around them.

“After seeing everything on the walls they get even more excited,” said Ross Hamilton, one of the doctors at the office.

Ross and his brothers, Randy and Blane Hamilton, have more than 150 Christmas puzzles lining the walls of their office.

“You could say that they are magic,” Blane said.

The reason why can be traced to the older Randy, their dad.

It all started in 1978.

Randy, and his wife Kay, were expecting their second son, Blane, to be born on Christmas day.

At the time, they could barely cover the hospital bill and definitely didn’t have enough money for Christmas.

“What do we give when we don’t have money to give presents,” said the elder Randy. “And Kay smiled and said, ‘well you give of yourself.’”

So, with no money, but plenty of time, Randy found this Christmas puzzle, half off, at the local Hallmark store.

“We’ll put ‘em together and afford the best frame we can and instead of having to buy a bunch of puzzles we’ll just give each family one puzzle,” he said.

Eventually, Randy and Kay made enough money to start buying presents and stop making puzzles. So why then have they kept the puzzle making going for the past 39 years?

“We were really hooked on putting the puzzles together,” Kay said. “We had so much fun.”

“We turn off the TV, we turn off cell phones and it is that together time,” Ross added.

With each new puzzle came a realization they didn’t need presents under the tree or stockings hung with care to experience the joy all around them.

“I didn’t understand we were struggling as a family,” Randy III said. “For me, it was just a 6-year-old kid, having mom and dad right next to me and being involved in something they were passionate about. And for me, that was the coolest thing in the world.”

“And we started talking a lot,” Randy II added. “So not only did it become a good puzzle night, it became a good night of communication.”

Over the years, they’ve done small puzzles, large puzzles, puzzles with odd pieces, Charlie
Brown puzzles and even Disney puzzles.

In all, they’ve put together more than 100,000 pieces and incredibly, only lost one.

They filled that empty spot by cutting out a piece of the lid.

Today, they’re carrying on the tradition with the newest generation of Hamiltons.

“It’s about being together and being a family and that pretty much sums it up,” Randy III said.

Obviously, this was never about puzzles. It’s about realizing that the true joy of Christmas isn’t wrapped under a tree. It’s inside each of us.

We just have to see the potential for the beauty that comes when we put the pieces together.

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