Most people decorate their Christmas trees in December, but for a Red Deer couple, the preparations started about two months ago.
Vince Jackman has put up 120 Christmas trees this year, to help give back to the furry animals of central Alberta.
Last year, Jackman and his partner, Tom Kereluk, decorated 105 Christmas trees in their Clearview area home, and in 2017, the number was 86.
The tradition has been going on at their house for about 15 years: the couple decorates their home, bakes sweet and savoury cheesecakes and invites friends and family over for a Christmas party.
They ask their guests to bring a donation for the Central Alberta Humane Society, where Jackman is vice-chair.
“We love our animals, and this brings our family and friends together,” he said.
The cause is an important one for the couple, who have four chihuahuas in their home.
“I think people think ‘let’s get a dog,’ and after Christmas, we see a spike in animals coming into the shelter, unfortunately,” said Jackman, adding many rabbits are discarded after Easter.
Jackman dedicated two to three hours every night to decorate the trees this year.
“And on weekends, if I was off, it was pretty much an all day thing,” he said.
Every room in the couple’s house is adorned with trees, including the bathrooms, the kitchen and the basement. There are a variety of tree sizes, from table-top trees to a 12-foot specimen in the living room.
This year’s themes include a Disney tree, Las Vegas-themed trees, a butterfly tree and a Darth Vader tree. New additions include a live Vincent van Gogh tree, Day of the Dead tree and RuPaul’s Drag Race tree.
Kereluk comes up with the themes based on trends he sees and trips the couple take, including Mexico this year, where they picked up items for the Day of the Dead tree.
“I dressed up as van Gogh this year for Halloween, so I thought about a tree with paint flowers, paint brushes, and with miniature van Gogh paintings in it,” said Kereluk.
The couple raised $2,200 at an informal weekend get-together, and collected donated items such as treats and canned food for dogs and cats, tough dog toys, harnesses and collars, used towels and blankets for the shelter.
A public open house is scheduled for Dec. 7 and 14 from noon to 4 p.m., in exchange for a donation to the shelter. Contact the couple at email@example.com if you want to check out their trees.