Worth the Effort

snail-1447233_640Thanksgiving weekend at the Voland house is typically full of activity – and I’m not talking about the kind that results from Black Friday shopping. We stay far away from that madness. No, the activity I’m talking about involves a lot of yard work and home updates. Naturally, the kids don’t like it.

First, the leaves have to be taken care of. Our handful of trees seem to produce a forest full of leaves. Our pecan tree also adds an extra element to deal with as the nuts fall like missiles during the cleanup. There’s nothing like finishing a long day’s work in the yard only to see it covered once again by another layer of leaves (they just keep falling).

Then we put up the Christmas lights. There are strings on the house and others lining the front sidewalk. No matter how carefully they were put away the year before, everything manages to get tangled up coming out of the box. We have to deal with replacing bulbs and finding extension cords. Of course, my meticulously drawn map, meant to make laying things out effortless, looks like Egyptian hieroglyphics when viewed from the top of a ladder.

Finally, we turn our attention to the inside. The tree goes up and the decorations are set out. Furniture has to be moved so that everything can find its perfect holiday location. Often, this also results in some kind of major remodeling project. Through it all, the dogs watch us fight and argue with bewildered looks on their faces.

Despite the bickering and complaining, we managed to survive the decorating ordeal. You’d think that we’d give up and just stop engaging in the behavior that causes so much stress and tension. It’s surely not worth it, right?

Ah, but it is. Once the sun goes down and the Christmas lights come on, the smiles appear. We marvel at the sight. The arguments are forgotten and everyone enjoys the warm glow. Even the boys eventually agree that the struggle was worth it.

Sometimes, in the midst of the struggle, it’s easy to lose sight of the end goal. Whether it’s completing a big work project, pushing to make your sales targets, or simply decorating the house for Christmas, our tendency is to develop a short-term focus toward a long-term goal. It can be hard to see past the immediate hardship.

But we have to remember that just on the other side of difficulty lies the reward. You have to endure the struggle to reach the payoff. The things worth fighting for do indeed require a fight.

At one point during the weekend, one of the kids noted that some of our best memories are from family trips and projects that went horribly wrong. At the time, all we wanted was for the hardship to end. Looking back though, we wouldn’t trade those times for anything. I guess that means we’ll be putting up the Christmas lights again next year.