Bright lights and festive cheer at a house like no other

2015-12-24 11:55

Pretoria - For 22 years, 150 000 lights have burnt brightly at the Danville Liggiehuis in Pretoria when, as a Christmas treat, the lights are switched on for the month of December in a decorative display that lights up Millar Street.

But that's not all.

The house is open and food parcels handed out to those who are less fortunate. On some days, even Father Christmas is known to drop by to listen to the wish lists of children.

The initiative is a family project run by the Van der Merwes, the owners of the house. The family has a team of nine to assist them in the month-long task of decorating the house. 

The lights are switched on from December 1 to January 1 from 7pm to 11pm. Santa Claus joins the festivities from December 6.

The mammoth task of decorating starts in November. While the project was led by Brenda van der Merwe, she has since handed it over to her daughter, Jacomien, after suffering a stroke two years ago.

Jacomien van der Merwe said despite her mother not being able to take charge of the project, they still had to ensure that smiles were brought to the faces of others.

Putting smiles on faces

“The smiles we see on their faces are just amazing,” she said. “There are so many people really in need. There are 950 families that get given food parcels.”

The food parcels handed out are donated by ordinary members of the public who visit the house.

“We are unable to give the children the exact gifts they ask for but we at least give them a gift to put a smile on their face. Christmas is about giving and not expecting anything in return. Seeing the smiles on people’s faces when they receive the gifts and food parcels is just wonderful,” she said.

“There are 150 000 lights and decorations around the house. It takes us the entire month of November to get the house ready. We then collect the food from people that come to visit the house and we then hand them out to the families before Christmas,” she said.

Thousands of people visit the house on a daily basis to marvel at the decorations with young children posing for pictures in the colourful garden.

But what about their electricity bill?

It costs the Van der Merwes an additional R800 but, they say, the bright lights are worth it.

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