A Puzzling Dilemma

I find myself with a dilemma.

I should be clear straight off, this is a good dilemma. In fact it is rather an exciting dilemma. Best of all, it is a jigsaw related dilemma.

My dilemma began at the weekend when my parents came round for a Bonfire Night dinner. Keen to be ahead of the game, they brought Advent calendars for the wife and me. This year, there was a twist, as my Advent calendar contains not chocolate, but jigsaw puzzles!

To be exact, it contains twelve, 80-piece jigsaw puzzles on the theme of a Christmas street. Given I typically take thirty minutes to solve a hundred piece puzzle, this means around six hours of puzzling to look forward to, and for my viewers, six hours to listen to me twaddle on!

So far, so good you are probably thinking. Where exactly is the dilemma? Well, the dilemma comes in two parts, the first rather easily solved, the second a little more complicated.

Part the first

The first part of the dilemma is around the choice of puzzle for my planned Christmas special. Prior to getting my calendar, I had already picked out a 500 piece puzzle with a vaguely Christmassy theme which I planned to complete over a couple of videos. With limited time in the run up to Christmas, I would be unable to complete both my planned puzzle and the Advent calendar puzzles, certainly not recorded and edited for upload.

So, one of the puzzles must go, and it is not a difficult choice. My original puzzle is only vaguely related to Christmas (it is a pantomime theme) and given pantomimes often run into the New Year, I can thinking about solving this puzzle early in 2023. In the run up to Christmas I shall look to solve the Advent puzzles, but that brings me to the second part of my dilemma.

The second part

The eagle-eyed amongst you may have spotted the problem I have in my plan to solve and film the Advent puzzles.

Advent, as you will be well aware, is typically longer than 12 days. Traditionally, Advent begins four Sundays before Christmas. In our more secular world, Advent is typically taken as the 1st to the 24th of December (or at least modern Advent calendars offer chocolates on those days and on occasion the 25th as well).

What I have been calling the Jigsaw Advent calendar is actually a Twelve Days of Christmas calendar, but that does not role off the tongue, or keyboard, quite as smoothly as an Advent calendar.

Traditionally, the twelve days immediately following Christmas Day (and sometimes including Christmas Day as well) were the significant period of feasting and celebration associated with the season. Advent was a period of expectation leading to Christmas, while the Twelve Days were the time to party. Over the years, at least in my experience, the run up to Christmas has taken on more significance, while the Twelves Days are typically only recalled in the song of the same name. My jigsaw calendar is clearly of the more traditional ilk, but it does leave me with a dilemma as to when to start opening the calendar and when to start solving puzzles.

The options

As I see it, there are four options open to me to solve this problem;

Option 1

I could treat the calendar as is traditional. Beginning on the 26th December, I could open one door a day, solve the puzzle and upload the video.

Pros: it’s traditional (apparently that is a thing some people like…).

Cons: it would see my Christmas video posting run through until the 6th of January, when most people have moved on from Christmas and are getting stuck into the new year.

Option 2

I could begin opening the calendar as I would a typical Advent calendar, with one door each day.

Pros: the puzzle gets going straight away in December.

Cons: I will run out of puzzles by the 12th December, with close to two weeks before Christmas without any puzzling to do.

Option 3

I could start opening the calendar on the 13th of December, then opening a door each day finishing on the 24th December just in time for Christmas.

Pros: the puzzling fun builds up to Christmas and finishes exactly on Christmas Eve.

Cons: the 13th of December seems such an arbitrary day to begin opening a calendar.

Option 4

I could start opening the calendar on the 1st of December, and open a door on alternate days leading up to the 23rd.

Pros: the calendar starts at the beginning of December and runs (almost) to Christmas Day, while the day between each door opening can be used to edit and upload videos.

Cons: with all the chaos of the season, I risk forgetting or missing a day (or more).

The solution?

Having written the options down and considered the pros and cons, I think I have an idea of which choice I will take, but I’d love to see what you lovely people think first. Drop a comment below with your preferred choice, and definitely let me know if there is an option 5 I have missed. I have less than four weeks to make my decision, I’m sure I will reach my choice by then…

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