Prior to settling in Australia, Christmas for our family in the UK was always celebrated in cold and wintery weather. Decorating our house in Lake Macquarie with outdoor lights really began as a way to feel more festive in a warm climate. We started 12 years ago and, over time, it has developed into quite a hobby. My wife and I have three adult sons and ever since our eldest, Adrian, joined in with the decorating, each year’s display has become bigger and better.
This Christmas will be the second year that we’ve raised money for ACRF with donations from anyone who comes to see our lights. When both my wife and I first decided to support a cancer organisation, and after doing some research on the internet, we quickly agreed that ACRF was the one for us. We liked what they were accomplishing. Most people have a family member or friend or acquaintance who has faced cancer. A lot has been done through research to advance treatments, but there is still a long way to go to eradicate or minimise cancer and its devastating effects. My mother died of liver cancer and my family is predisposed to developing bowel cancer so I am acutely aware of what might happen to us in the future.
Setting up each year’s Christmas display does take time, a lot of time. I’m a civil engineer by profession, so you can imagine the amount of planning and structuring that goes into the entire process. It has taken 186 hours this year to set up, working most Saturdays and Sundays in November. As the front lawn is used for six weeks with part of the display and the grass has to be kept short, half-way through we remove all the lights, mow the lawn and then set up again. It takes four hours to accomplish that 15 minutes of mowing!
The complexity of the display has evolved over the years. Five years ago, we started to include computer controlled lights that flash on and off in time with music. More recently, we introduced special RGB lights so we can change every bulb to any colour we like, and then my sons presented me with a snow machine which we use on weekends during the display. The kids love it! This year’s innovation is projections of Santa in the windows waving and getting presents ready. Once the Christmas season is finished, we spend many more hours taking down the display, cleaning and testing all the lights and then carefully packing everything away. We usually don’t complete the task until early February.
In 2017 we had a good-sized flow of people who viewed the lights and who also made a donation. We successfully raised $2,800 for ACRF, and we want to match or exceed that amount this year. The reality is that cancer can affect anyone at any time so everyone should try to do their bit to help. So please come by, see the lights and help support cancer research.
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