Christmas Spirit Alive and Well in Sunrise Beach

Christmas Spirit Alive and Well

Surely I must be one of the luckiest people alive to living in Noosa and in a place called Sunrise Beach? It’s a great little area built on sand dunes and still home to rare shiny black cockatoos, rosella parrots, possums, echidnas, frogs, snakes, the dreaded cane toad and doubtless many other critters I haven’t spotted yet.

It’s also home to people of all nationalities which I love. We moved to this area of the Sunshine Coast in Queensland, Australia two years ago but this is our third Christmas here.

We don’t go overboard with Christmas decorations but I do try to make an effort for the kids so we usually make Christmas tree decorations and cards. Here’s a Christmas tree we made out of cardboard when we lived in Costa Rica:

And here’s a more sophisticated 3-D version we made last year but abandoned in favour of a run of the mill artificial Christmas tree. The kids like it better. We are normal.

One of our neighbours Graham goes a bit beyond sticking up a Christmas tree in the living room window. He creates detailed Christmas displays in his front windows, garage and garden with little trains whizzing round and a cacophony of Christmas songs.

The house and garden all lit up like a Christmas tree

He has abseiling polar bears, dancing Father Christmases and massive electricity bills come December! We went to check it out along with all the other neighbours and people who drive from far and wide to see the Christmas spectacle. The kids love it. I have to take my youngest every night in the countdown to Christmas.

One of the window displays. Other windows have a snow scene and a Barbie Christmas at the beach

I get a bit bored of it and I wonder if Graham does too. He has to stand outside protecting his toys from prying fingers but he does it for love. He’s just a nice guy who started doing it when his first grandchild was born in 1998 and likes to make the kids happy. And he has a donation box to collect money for the Cancer society who he’s sent tens of thousands of dollars to over the years.

My kids with our kind neighbour Graham

So that’s Graham; an ordinary person doing extraordinary things.

The garden

Have you done anything extraordinary lately? If not put it at the top of your agenda for next year.

Happy Holidays Lovely Reader

I’m very proud that this year we at Get In the Hot Spot have been able to make donations to Kiva through sales of my book Successful Blogging in 12 Steps and lent money via Kiva to support a Kenyan woman develop her business and support her family.

Blogging has been an extraordinary journey so far and 2010 a huge year for me with trips to Shanghai, Las Vegas and the launch of my first book. Many thanks for all your support and contributions.

Happy holidays to all my amazing readers. I wish you all the best in 2011. xoxo Annabel

Photo credit: meanestindian

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  1. Barbara Hammond December 21, 2010 at 12:01 pm - Reply

    I think I’m glad to know it’s not just here in the States that people go crazy w/ lights, etc. at Christmas time. I would not want their electric bills. ;)

    Hope you have a great Holiday and a Wonderful New Year Annabel!

    • Annabel Candy December 22, 2010 at 10:52 am - Reply

      Hi Barbara, lol, yes, silly season all over the world! Hope you have a great one too:)

  2. Sara at Saving For Someday December 21, 2010 at 2:19 pm - Reply

    It’s lovely to see the summery weather displayed by your children in their shorts and lightweight clothing. And yes, your little slice of heaven has a most lovely name!

    As we are Jewish, our home is one of the bare, light-less homes on our block. But that’s OK, because it doesn’t bother me. I appreciate that people want to put up lights and show their holiday spirit. But, I hear a lot of grumbling about putting up the lights/decorations and then taking them down. Oh, and the light bill!

    It’s wonderful that Graham collects money for charity. It shows the true spirit. And, we know that no one would just go up to his house and give a few dollars if it weren’t for all the beautiful and sparkly decorations. So, for him it truly must be a labor of love.

    What extraordinary thing have I done lately? I like to think that what I do is just ordinary – providing a family with a holiday meal when they wouldn’t have had one, giving gifts to children who are cared for by others because their parents/relatives abuse them, paying for lunch for a soldier at the airport, offering to pay the few dollars for the milk/eggs for the mom in front of me at the market. I don’t think of those as extraordinary, but maybe they are. It is the recipients who are extraordinary, doing their best in the face of adversity.

    Thank you for reminding me to ask my readers to do something, not because they have to or because it is the holidays. Do something because they feel it in their heart.

    You’re a lovely friend, Annabel, and I appreciate you very much!

    • Annabel Candy December 22, 2010 at 10:54 am - Reply

      Hi Sara, thanks so much for sharing the extraordinary things you’ve done and what a list there is. Small, thoughtful and touching. It doesn’t take much to make people happy yet so many people don’t do anything for other people. I do believe helping others makes us feel happier too so I hope you have a very happy non-Christmas. I guess you already got to celebrate something?!

  3. Connie December 22, 2010 at 2:42 am - Reply

    Barbie Christmas at the Beach sounds cool! Have a great holiday Annabel…my extraordinary achievements border on vice so not sure if I should be celebrating too much LOL.

  4. leon Noone December 22, 2010 at 2:54 am - Reply

    G’Day Annabel,
    No chestnuts, open fires or Jack Frosts nipping at your nose at Sunrise Beach? Sounds like there’s still plenty of warmth.

    When I was a kid growing up in Melbourne years ago, in the suburb of Ivanhoe there was one street famous for it’s decorated houses at Christmas. . I loved it.

    After marriage, we moved to Sydney and our kids loved seeing the lights and colours and decorations. By this time my enthusiasm had waned bit.

    Now houses are lit and decorated with all sorts of clever lighting and vivid motifs, man of which have little to do with Christmas. I reckon that it’s all a bit over the top and tasteless. But guess what? The grandkids love it still.

    So let’s rejoice with the kids that there are still enough Grahams around to bring them such breathless pleasure.

    Christmas is a good time to suspend our sophisticated adult judgements and simply enjoy, even if we can’t figure out what Goldilocks has to do with Chriatmas, and why the Wise Men from The East appeared from The West and are already in Bethlehem four days early. Who cares?!

    May Christmas mean to you everything you want it to mean.



    • Annabel Candy December 22, 2010 at 10:56 am - Reply

      Hi Leon, tacky and tasteless yes, but the kids do love it. Still, you have a point, the more we get the more we expect. We we happy just to see the lights on our Christmas tree:) Thanks for your wishes and wonderful comments over the year!

  5. Sue December 22, 2010 at 3:00 am - Reply

    Hi Annabel,

    Love the cardboard Christmas trees! Thanks for all the wonderful posts over the year and I”ll look forward to reading more over the coming year. Also I’m so glad to hear that you donated some of the money from your book sales to Kiva. At their best, programs like Kiva can really make a difference to someone’s life.

    I don’t know if what I do is extraordinary, but I do try to use my blog as a vehicle for gently teaching people about social and environmental issues and I offer them some practical strategies for implementing changes or finding resources that will inspire independent and critical thinking. I have a couple of ideas for next year, whether they will play out as doing something extraordinary is anyone’s guess… ;-)

    Here’s wishing you, your family, and all your other readers a peaceful and happy holiday season and wonderful, inspiring year ahead.

    Bright blessings and happy solstice!

    • Annabel Candy December 22, 2010 at 10:58 am - Reply

      Hi Sue, I love the sound of your gently teaching people about various issues. I do think blogs are a great place for like-minded people to hang out with and connect with each other and that’s a service in itself. Best wishes to you too:)

  6. GutsyWriter December 22, 2010 at 3:07 am - Reply

    Hi Annabel,
    I can tell you’re a great mother from the smiles on your children’s faces.
    Graham seems like the nice “Grandpa” or perhaps “Santa” in your neighborhood. When we lived in Belize, we had to decorate the palm tree with lights. No Christmas tree there. Every year my husband and I disagree on the tree. He wants the fake one, and I love a real one. I guess it’s from my Danish background; no fake trees there. My American husband seems to enjoy a Las Vegas style tree, (FLASHY.) He says my Danish tree looks naked in comparison. So now you know my inner secrets of Christmas tree decorating. This year we have FLASHY, not GUTSY.

    • Annabel Candy December 22, 2010 at 10:59 am - Reply

      Hi GutsyWriter, lol, so the hubby won:) I like plain and simple too but the decorated palm tree sounds right up my alley. I’d go for a tropical Xmas over a snowy one any day!

  7. Penelope J. December 22, 2010 at 7:40 am - Reply

    Hi Annabel,
    Thanks for sharing your Christmas trees and other decorations with us. You are certainly original.
    I’m not putting up many decorations this year as I’m staying in someone else’s home. However, when I have my own place, I love a real tree – that’s my English background. This year, I’m enjoying my neighbors’ decorations. One had a beautiful front lawn full of a happy waving Santa and kids on a merry-go-round and Disney figures – all blown-up figures – that was fun to see. Until some Grinch or better said, some SOB stole the lot. Things like that sort of dampen the Christmas spirit.
    Anyway, have a lovely Christmas and holidays in what sounds like a wonderful part of the world to live in. What a great place for kids.

    • Annabel Candy December 22, 2010 at 11:01 am - Reply

      Hi Penelope, real trees are the best, then you get the smell of Christmas which is pine trees and mandarins for me. It’s tragic someone would steal those decorations. Madness really. We are lucky to live here – shorts and tshirts all year round!

  8. Sandra Lee December 22, 2010 at 12:31 pm - Reply

    Hi Annabel,

    Oh no! Not the dreaded cane toad!!!!! What an amazing place you live. And what a contrast your neighbor brings to all this beautiful wildlife. People express their goodness in so many different kinds of ways. With all the joy your neighbor brings, it’s hard but still necessary to bah humbug about the wasted electricity. There must be other ways! Like your marvelous recycled cardboard Christmas Trees. Now that truly inspires me.

    I loved getting this glimpse into your life and your gorgeous family. Thanks!

    • Annabel Candy December 22, 2010 at 4:09 pm - Reply

      Hi Sandra, it’s a great idea isn’t it? The one in Costa Rica which we just stuck on the wall worked brilliantly too:) Thanks so much for all your comments and support over the year. You’re phenomenal!

  9. Jimi Jones December 23, 2010 at 3:01 am - Reply

    Hello and Happy Holidays, Annabel.

    Great post with lots of cheery images. I have to agree, you ARE one of the luckiest folks alive there in Sunrise Beach. :-) Really happy for you and the family, looks like you all are living life to the fullest and having a blast.

    Those cardboard trees are pretty awesome. LOL
    Keep rockin it, my friend. :-)

  10. Veggie Mama December 23, 2010 at 8:53 am - Reply

    Just gorgeous! Merry Christmas to you and yours, Annabel x

  11. jonathanfigaro December 28, 2010 at 9:29 am - Reply

    I love how homie you make this post. We are very lucky to have such a wonderful country where you can see the joy of x-mas through the window of shopping mall, homes and every corporate venue that wants you to ( buy, sell, buy, sell…lol) expose the joy of x-mas. Its really beautiful.

  12. Juliet Fieldew December 29, 2010 at 3:00 pm - Reply

    Hi Annabel, I just found your blog via the “4 Classic Mistakes” post you did on Pro-Blogger back in march. What a thrill to find you have now over 10,ooo subscribers via email! I live in Melbourne, Aus, and have just started getting serious about blogging, although it will be a short time before my ‘serious’ blog goes live. It looks like your blog is full of awesomeness, and right up my alley, so I’ll be back again to look around some more.

    P.S. I’m loving the site graphics- well done guys!

  13. Chartreuse December 20, 2011 at 8:59 am - Reply

    Thank god for the Grahams. I’d never have the energy to do all that – and every year – but I admire anyone who puts their heart and soul into a project like that, only to have to dismantle it a few weeks later. The most amazing displays of Christmas lights and frolics were the ones we saw in Manila when we lived there for a couple of years. It was a highlight of Manila children’s Christmas to be driven around the city to see the best of these displays, many put on by corporations and owners of big buildings. But of course, thousands of children there never got to enjoy that or other such pleasures at Christmas or any other time. And I did wonder then whether the huge cost of decorating skyscrapers and factories with lights couldn’t have been better spent on alleviating a little of so many kids’ dreadful poverty. But people do like spectacle, don’t they!

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