Ugly Tree Forest


Every Fall, the women in my family get together to celebrate ‘Christmas in October’. We spend the day poking around the Christmas wares the local boutiques have displayed, eating decadently, and getting ourselves in the Christmas spirit. This has become a yearly tradition and something we all look forward to as the holiday season approaches.

Sometime near the beginning of these outings my sister and I stumbled upon what is quite possibly, one of the ugliest Christmas decorations we have ever laid eyes on.

Standing at approximately 10 inches high was, what appeared to be a Christmas tree plastered in dried snot, sequins, and dryer lint. Confused, I picked it up and presented it to my sister. We stared in silence for a solid minute and then burst into laughter, which lead to tears, which lead to my sister fearing she may need a change on pants.

And that my friends, was how our Ugly Tree Forest was born.


Every year while celebrating ‘Christmas in October’ we search for a new tree to add to the collection. And, on the years we haven’t been able to spend the holidays together, we’ve had competitions over who can find the ugliest tree to gift to one another.


Over the years many have heard the story of this forest. It has become a group effort with friends and family adding to our collection. We even have a shop in our home town whose owner now considers us while purchasing his Christmas stock, orders us the ugliest trees he can get his hands on and then hides them in his store for us to find when we come shopping.

It really has turned into quite the production.


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Christmas Gift


It started out as research. Well, that’s what I told my husband. The reality though, was that I have always been interested in taxidermy and skeleton articulation. And, being unwilling to harm an animal in the name of research I had to practise patience, and wait for nature to run it’s course.

Unable to find the right words to properly question my intentions, my husband’s cautious laughter said more than anything he could have spoken. Knowing better than to get between me and my ideas, he stepped aside as I fished a dead bird from our pool. I was upset I hadn’t found my feathered friend early enough to save his life, but I wasn’t going to let the bird’s death go to waste. My husband watched in silence as I buried the frail body in a shallow grave in our backyard. I reassured him the dogs wouldn’t dig there, that they would know better. Foolish promises, surely.

Pleased with my actions, I envisioned the story I would write. A story about a killer who also enjoyed skeleton articulation. I wasn’t sure of the details beyond that, but I figured that instead of taking the critters who had passed on out to the dump, I would give them a new life through my research. I would allow nature to do its work and then articulate their bones. Preserving their beauty instead of disposing of it.

As it turns out, I never gained the nerve required to actually go through with my research, but I found the next best thing. Online shopping has opened up an entire new world. A world that allows one to order ethically sourced animal skeletons from the comfort of their home office. Pants optional. So, with Christmas looming in the near future, I planted the seed in my husband’s ear.

Snow fell, Christmas trees were erected then decorated, and wrapping paper shredded. My husband, who has a flawless gift-giving track record, surprised me with an articulated cat skeleton. It was quite possibly the least romantic gift one could receive, but likely the most excited anyone has ever been to open a package and find a dead animal beneath the festive gift wrap.


We gathered with friends and family to celebrate the season, eager to share decedent appetizers and the stories of our spoils. My sister sparkled from every appendage as she modelled the jewels she received. We gushed over the beauty of each piece, expressing our jealously of her treasures. Our ‘ooohs’ and ‘ ‘ahhhs’ swam harmoniously on the air as my husband entered the kitchen, questioning what all of excitement was about. My sister did a little spin, her jewels sparkling as brightly as the lights in the trees. My husband let out a loud laugh, turned to me and said, “And all you got was a dead cat!”



***DISCLAIMER – This is an ethically sourced articulated skeleton.***